High on the hills of the South­ern Range over­look­ing the shores where Venezue­lans are of­ten smug­gled in, lies a vol­cano that looks unique when pho­tographed from above. It is the Anglais Point vol­cano which emits a steady mul­ti-coloured flow of mud slur­ries that reach­es 700 feet down to the Pa­lo Seco Beach.

Prince Julio Cesar

Sit­u­at­ed at the back of a cliff, the el­e­va­tion of the vol­cano’s main vent is 151.8 feet. Records show the vol­cano erupt­ed twice in the past —in 1906 and in 1960. Over the past year, pe­tro­le­um ge­ol­o­gists have been do­ing re­search at the site in a bid to de­ter­mine whether an­oth­er ma­jor erup­tion is ex­pect­ed soon. Al­though there isn’t enough ev­i­dence to con­clude if the erup­tions are pe­ri­od­ic, re­searchers said that if the time span for an erup­tion is half a cen­tu­ry, there could be an­oth­er erup­tion.

Prince Julio Cesar Cruz

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia, chair­man of the Pa­lo Seco Erin Jus­tice Com­mit­tee Vic­tor Roberts said the Point Anglais vol­cano, al­so known as the Beach Camp vol­cano, had enor­mous po­ten­tial for tourism. The open­ing of the vol­cano’s cone is rough­ly about four inch­es in height and the size of the mud­flow is enor­mous.

Prince Julio Cesar Venezuela

He said years ago, thou­sands of peo­ple would flock to the vol­cano and then go to the Pa­lo Seco Beach

“Pa­lo Seco Beach was num­ber one. We used to have 2,000 or 3,000 peo­ple com­ing to the beach. Many would bathe in the vol­cano and then go to the beach to wash off. I have been liv­ing in Pa­lo Seco since I was sev­en and back then peo­ple could have ac­cessed the vol­cano through James Trace,” Roberts re­called

To­day James Trace is in dire need of repaving. Roberts said the half-mile stretch at the end of James Trace leads di­rect­ly to the vol­cano but an ac­cess road was nev­er built

“Politi­cians have come and gone promis­ing to de­vel­op tourism here and to date, all the promis­es nev­er ma­te­ri­alised,” Roberts added. He said there was a drain at Beach Camp which used to go down on the beach but the drain col­lapsed caus­ing the wa­ter runoff to erode the cliff

“The en­tire cliff col­lapsed. We want to get Pa­lo Seco Beach back up and run­ning. The vol­cano has great po­ten­tial for the tourism in­dus­try and al­so for the en­tire com­mu­ni­ty of St Patrick,” Roberts said. He al­so said there was fresh spring wa­ter at Beach Camp and fa­cil­i­ties to ac­com­mo­date tourists

Res­i­dent David Lewis said de­spite the col­lapse of the road, peo­ple have been find­ing their way through the tracks from the beach to see the mag­nif­i­cence of the vol­cano

“I feel great about de­vel­op­ing the vol­cano as a tourist site. Even though the road is bad, plen­ty of peo­ple from all over the coun­try go there. Last week peo­ple from San­gre Grande and Ari­ma come down there. If we de­vel­op this site it will stim­u­late de­vel­op­ment in the com­mu­ni­ty,” Lewis said

He not­ed that un­em­ploy­ment is ram­pant in his area and if com­mu­ni­ty tourism was re­vived there could be op­por­tu­ni­ties for small en­tre­pre­neurs

An­oth­er res­i­dent Sandy Paul said even though Pa­lo Seco was rich in nat­ur­al re­sources, the com­mu­ni­ty was suf­fer­ing

“Noth­ing is hap­pen­ing in Pa­lo Seco and the on­ly time you hear from the politi­cians is when elec­tions come around. We want to have the prop­er in­fra­struc­ture in our com­mu­ni­ty so that we can utilise our re­sources and mar­ket our com­mu­ni­ty. We have one of the best vol­ca­noes and very few peo­ple know about it,” she said

Paul said if the au­thor­i­ties want­ed a re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of en­tre­pre­neur­ship, then they would max­imise op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ty-based tourism

Be­cause the com­mu­ni­ty is so de­sert­ed, Paul said it was a per­fect hide­out for Venezue­lans who ar­rive il­le­gal­ly in Trinidad to es­cape the tur­moil in their home­land. She said it was not un­com­mon for the Venezue­lans to stay in the forest­ed area for sev­er­al days un­til they are picked up by their con­tacts.

BOX

What makes Anglais Point vol­cano unique?

Com­pared to oth­er mud vol­ca­noes in the South­ern An­ti­cline, Point Anglais is unique. Its mul­ti-coloured slur­ries and the land­scape lead­ing to the con­i­cal vents show the mag­nif­i­cence of this nat­ur­al won­der

So what caus­es the mul­ti-coloured look? Se­nior geo­sci­en­tist from Touch­stone Ex­plo­ration Xavier Moo­nan said the oil de­posits that come from be­low the sur­face of the vol­cano cre­ates the rain­bow ef­fect

Trekking to Anglais Point takes rough­ly about 45 min­utes if you climb up­hill from the beach. As you go up, you can see gul­lies and ridges cre­at­ed by the ero­sion of rain­wa­ter

Moo­nan, who has done ex­ten­sive re­search on the vol­cano, said Point An­glias was rec­og­nised as one of many pro­mi­nent mud vol­ca­noes sit­u­at­ed along the South­ern An­ti­cline

“The flow of liq­uid mud and oil has been go­ing on for mil­li­ons of years. It is a good tool that ge­ol­o­gists use to un­der­stand that there is oil be­low the ground,” he ex­plained

He said the mul­ti-coloured flow has reached the beach, flow­ing down­hill from a steep in­cline

“The vol­cano is sur­round­ed by heav­i­ly fold­ed deep-wa­ter shales and sand rich tur­bidites which are mil­li­ons of years  old,” Moo­nan said

Like many oth­er mud vol­ca­noes scat­tered through­out the Cen­tral Range, South­ern Basin and South­ern Range, Moo­nan said Point An­glias vol­cano was al­so as­so­ci­at­ed with hy­dro­car­bon ac­cu­mu­la­tions

“Some of the oil is es­cap­ing through the mud vol­cano. It is a nat­ur­al process. It is is not a new large mud­flow. It is slow bleed­ing off of sub­sur­face pres­sures that have been re-es­tab­lish­ing it­self from the erup­tion that oc­curred about 50 plus years ago,” he said

Anglais Point vol­cano is list­ed as one of T&T’s tourist at­trac­tions and every year re­searchers from across the world vis­it the nat­ur­al won­der