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Geoforms in Cyprus


In Cyprus, a number of geoforms have been identified, recorded and described, and several of them have already been included in official catalogues. The following list includes some of the better known examples: 

  1. Flat topped, steep sided hills called “mesa”, (Photo GF1) characteristic of the Mesaoria Plain. The upper surfaces of these hills are covered by hard rocks, usually calcareous sandstone or cemented gravel and their sides by softer marl. Their formation is due to the differential weathering of these rocks in conjunction with the uplifting movements in Cyprus.

  • Aronas hill (Photo GF2), on the Athalassa-Geri road, is a typical example, because it is capped by a flat lying bed of hard calcarenite, which overlies softer marls. The rocks belong to the Nicosia-Athalassa Formation of Pliocene age. The hill is bounded towards the top by a steep cliff, which has developed in the mechanically strong layer of calcarenite, but the sides of the hill become much gentler in the underlying marls and provide a marked contrast. The hill is isolated and forms an erosional remnant of the Mesaoria plain that persisted because of its protective cover of more resistant sedimentary rock of calcarenite.

  1. Gorges. (Photo GF3) They occur in several parts of Cyprus and have formed due to the down cutting action of rivers through chemically resistant and mechanically strong rocks in areas that have been raised high above sea-level.

  • Androlykou, Limnati and Avakas (scan photo from pamphlet of Env Serv) are typical examples. Avakas is one of the deepest, steepest and narrowest gorges of the island. It has taken its name from the river of Avakas or Avgas, which through the centuries has cut through the calcareous rocks of the area to form this explicit natural monument. The rocks belong to the Lefkara and Pakhna Formations. The gorge is 6 km long, starting from Pegeia forest to the east and ending at Toxeftra coast to the west. The most impressive part of the gorge, however, is limited to a length of 2 km. In this part, vertical calcareous rocks rise some 30 m above the river bed. Here the gorge is also very narrow with a width of about 2 m, which can exceed 6 m in other places. The gorge has a rich flora and its walls are usually moist. The ecosystem that has developed there is very fragile and this unique geoform must be protected and preserved.

  • Khali or Lefkoniko Pass on the eastern extension of Kyrenia Range to the north of Lefkoniko;

  • Panagra to the north of Myrtou.

  1. Important fossil sites.  Fossils of mammals and in particular of pygmy hippopotami and pygmy elephant were found in caves and other natural cavities that formed in the terrestrial Pleistocene formations of Cyprus. These mammals appear to have come to Cyprus 100,000 to 250,000 years ago and adapted to the new environment of an island. The most important adaptation was dwarfishness. The pygmy hippopotamus of Cyprus (Phanourios minutus)(Photo GF4) had a length of 1.5 m and a height of 0.75 m while the pygmy elephant (Elephas cypriotes) had a height of about 1 m. They became extinct about 10,000 years ago. Reese (1995) has recorded 40 sites from all over Cyprus where mammal fossils were found.

  • Kakkaristra site (Photo GF5) near Latsia. The Kakkaristra fossil site is situated within the Kakkaristra gorge (Photo GF6), which lies to the southwest of Latsia. The gorge is about 1 km long and a maximum of 10 m deep.  It developed during the Upper Pleistocene after the emergence of the area above the sea and the action of denudation on the resistant beds of the newly formed land. The rocks, through which the gorge has cut, include sandy marls, greywackes, calcarenite, limestone and conglomerate. The fossils of the Kakkaristra fossil site occur in sandy marls of the Nicosia Formation of Pliocene age. They are made up almost entirely of Ostrea edulis but other species including Pecten and Balanus are also found. They are mostly concentrated in a layer.

  • Potami site - remains of Conifers; these are found in Pliocene marls and are quite well preserved. They provide the oldest evidence for the presence of conifers in Cyprus.

  • Empa site – Bones and teeth of pygmy hippopotamus and elephant; pygmy hippopotamus and elephant fossil sites are also found at:

  • Agia Napa (Photo GF18)

  • Akrotiri-Aetokremmos;

  • Agia Irini; 

  • Agios Georgios town to the west of Kyrenia, on the coast;

  • North of Akanthou village; 

  • NNE of Kato Dhikomo.

  1. Caves. They have formed in rocks of limestone and gypsum and their formation is due to the solution of the rock mass by rainwater charged with carbon dioxide. Stalactites grow downward from the roof and stalagmites upward from the floor. In Cyprus, caves are usually small because of the limited thickness and extent of the limestone and gypsum formations.

  • Xylofagou caves (Photo GF7) in Koronia Limestone.

  • Kyrenia Range caves in Mesozoic limestones. They occur in particular on the southern flanks of the Kyrenia Range immediately to the north of Aghirda village and Ay. Khariton.

  • Man-made caves from the ancient times. These caves were excavated in the sandy marls of the Nicosia Formation and are found at Galinoporni and Korovia villages. It is thought that these caves belong to the early Byzantine times. Similar caves were found at the eastern part of Koma tou Yialou village; they were excavated into calcarenite.    

  • Gypsum cave at Platani village. This is described in greater detail below.

  1. Important rock outcrops.

  • Koronia Hill on the Astromeritis – Troodos road to the southwest of Koutrafas. It is a good example of locality for the Koronia Limestone Formation of Upper Miocene age as it provides a complete section. It is a reef limestone with fossils of corals and molluscs including Pecten, Cardium and Venus. It rests directly on Upper Pillow Lavas and due to its toughness the limestone has resisted erosion and forms a capping on the hill. Similar rocs occur at Armenochori. (Photo GF8)

  • Kathikas Melange (Photo GF9). Typical outcrops of this Upper Cretaceous Formation occur to the west of Kathikas and on the Koilineia – Vretsia road. This spectacular series of debris-flows (olistostromes) form the Kathikas Formation of Upper Cretaceous age. The melange comprises clasts of nearly all of the rocks of the Mamonia terrane (chert, sandstone, lava) in a matrix of reddish-purple argillaceous sediment.

  • Picrite basalt – Upper Pillow Lavas at Margi. The site lies 500 m to the southwest of Margi village and has long been of interest to the geo-scientists. Good examples of picritic and glassy olivine basalts are found here and certain horizons contain fresh volcanic glass. Such lavas are relatively rare elsewhere.

  • Pillow Lavas – Maroullena- Akaki River at Klirou (Photo GF10); Panagra gorge on the Myrtou–Kyrenia main road; and Platanisso village in the Karpas Peninsula.

  • These pillow lavas are spherical or ellipsoidal structures, usually composed of basalt lava 30-70 cm in diameter. They are the result of rapid cooling of hot, fluid magma that came into contact with seawater. The Troodos pillow lavas are cut by steeply dipping dykes composed of the same basaltic material. Many of these dykes represent the feeders of later lava flows.

  • Travertine terraces at Chiklos site on the Kyrenia – Nicosia main road and in the town centre and southern portion of Lapithos village in the Kyrenia district.

  • Pinnacles (tall pyramidal stacks in Mesozoic limestone of the Kyrenia Range close to the road from Vasilia to Larnaca tis Lapithou and on the road between Karmi and Phtreykha.

  1. Important mineral exposures.

  • Zeolites (Photo GF11) – near Avdellero. The most common zeolite minerals found at Avdellero are analcite and natrolite and they occur in Upper Pillow Lavas. Analcite is normally found in the form of trapezohedron crystals, milk-white in colour but quite often colourless, several millimetres across. Natrolite occurs in the form of fibrous or radiating crystals sometimes 3-4 cm long.

  • Rare nodular chromite – Limassol and Akapnou forests (Photo GF19). This form of chromite consists of closely packed, rounded and elongated nodules in a serpentinite matrix. Individual nodules vary in diameter from a few millimetres to 2-3 cm and are often perfectly rounded. This nodular texture is known as leopard ore.

  • Twin gypsum crystals (Photo GF12) – Eledio-Amargeti road and Kathikas-Stroumpi road; near the road junction between Pano Dhikomo and Vouno.

  • In the Eledio-Amargeti and Kathikas-Stroumpi areas the gypsiferous deposits accumulated in a small basin bounded by higher areas, represented by the Troodos ophiolite to the east and the Akamas peninsula to the west. In this area the gypsum is of two types: a) fine-grained alabastrine sugary gypsum and b) elongate swallow-tail gypsum. The latter form is the most impressive with individual crystals attaining lengths of 3 m.

  • Chromite sands are found at various beach sites in the northern part of Cyprus, like Monarga (Bogaz) and to the east of Agios Epiktitos village in the Kyrenia District.

  • Secondary copper mineralisation occurrence in the oxidation zone to the west of Platanisso.

  • Some Barite occurrences around Kilanemos village in the Karpas Peninsula.

  1. Prominent rock blocks.(Photo GF13) They are usually large detached blocks of limestone or sandstone of the Mamonia Complex and other formations.

  • Hasampoulia (Photo GF14) – recrystallised limestone on the Nikoklia - Agios Nikolaos road near Prastio, Pafos. The rock rises 30 m above the ground and in combination with the rusty and dark colours of its surface presents an impressive picture.

  • Inia rocks (scan photo from pamphlet of Env. Serv.) – large detached rocks of Akamas Sandstone near Inia.

  1. Mixed sulphide (copper) mines (Photos GF15, GF16).  These are found at Skouriotisa, Mitsero-Agrokipia, Kampia, Mathiatis-Shia, Kalavasos, Limni. In these mines a wealth of information can be found for anybody interested in geology and minerals.

  1. Umber exposure. (Photo GF17) Classical exposure in the old quarry on the Kellia - Troulloi road.  Similar exposures are also seen in the abandoned pit at the southern part of Arsos village in the Famagusta district and in the new deposits recently discovered in the same area.

  1. Pumice. These deposits are sea–borne, probably originating from the Greek islands or southern Italy where they were ejected from some volcanoes. Pieces of rounded pumice occur near the top of the raised beach deposits near the Agia Irini coast. The pumice contains plates of mica and crystals of quartz and ferromagnesian minerals.



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