The Leeward Antilles (Dutch: Benedenwindse Eilanden) are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles (and, in turn, the Antilles and the West Indies) along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland. The Leeward Antilles, while among the Lesser Antilles, are not to be confused with the Leeward Islands (also of the Lesser Antilles) to the northeast.
Largely lacking in volcanic activity, the Leeward Antilles island arc occurs along the deformed southern edge of the Caribbean Plate and was formed by the plate’s subduction under the South American Plate. Recent studies indicate that the Leeward Antilles are accreting to South America.
The Leeward Antilles comprise (roughly from west to east):
- ABC islands (all part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands):
- Federal Dependencies of Venezuela
- Nueva Esparta State (Venezuela)
- Levander, Alan, et al. 2006 (28 February). Evolution of the Southern Caribbean Plate Boundary. (abstract; article) Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 87(9): 97,100.
- Levander, Alan, et al. 2006 (accessed 27 August). Collaborative Research: Crust-Mantle Interactions During Continental Growth and High-Pressure Rock Exhumation at an Oblique Arc-Continent Collision Zone: Geology of Northeastern Venezuela. SE Caribbean Plate Boundary Continental Dynamics Project. Houston, TX: Rice University.