Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Broken Land: Skull Island's Tectonic Turmoil

There is little wonder as to why Skull Island had laid undiscovered for so long. Jutting from the perilous sea far west of Sumatra, the island was in the heart of a region afflicted by intense magnetic anomalies and violent sea storms. The very rock of which the island was built was treacherous.
A view of the island's jagged coastline; evidence of its tumultuous formation
Once part of a much larger landmass, ancient Pangaea, Skull Island sits squarely on the turbulent boundary of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The plates continually converge with one another and the resultant stress causes violent fracturing of the Indo-Australian plate beneath the island. This in turn has lead to the formation of the majority of Skull Island's jagged coastline. In the past it is likely that significant volcanic activity ensued as a result of tectonic movement. Fissures and pressure spots created land and forced molten rock (magma) to the surface while, at the same time, great chunks of the island broke off and fell into the deep subduction trench that marked the plate's edge. As illustrated in the image below the island's convergent plate boundaries formed the central mountain peak where Kong would dwell.
Diagram illustrating the process of Skull Island's violent formation
Unfortunately due to this highly destructive tectonic process the island's coastline continually shatters and falls away causing the island to slowly sink. In the island's heart, dormant volcanic forces have brought water and mud bubbling to the surface while other areas are gnawed hollow from beneath, leaving a crumbling land full of jagged abutments and bottomless chasms. Ironically, Skull Island owes its creation to the same forces that were tearing it to pieces by the time of its discovery in the mid-twentieth century.
Image illustrating the dramatic extent to which the island has shrunk in the past thousand years

  • Images taken from The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island


  1. Hello! This is a great blog post to help introduce someone to how Skull Island was formed. I didn't feel overwhelmed by the information you gave and was genuinely interested the whole way through. The way you explained your processes was perfect and helped me get a better understanding of the forms. My only suggestion would be to try to include more pictures of Skull Island to go along with your diagrams for a better visual experience. All in all though, great job!