Jasper Creek, Venezuela

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In the Gran Sabana Municipality of Bolívar State, in Venezuela, near the town of Santa Elena de Uairén, flows a small stream. The bedrock of this stream is pure jasper, a semi-precious stone of mostly quartz and silica, with a strong red color due to the presence of iron. Jasper is used throughout the world to make jewelry and ornaments. The indigenous people of Venezuela traditionally used the jasper as striking stones to create sparks to start fires, so the creek is locally known as Kako Paru or “Firestone Creek”. In English, it is known by the name of Jasper Creek or “Quebrada de Jaspe” in Spanish. Jasper Creek is located about 25 km southwest of Mount Roraima.


Photo credit: Chaltours/Flickr

Jasper is typically found in veins and cracks in volcanic rocks, and usually occurs only in relatively small deposits, but in the Guiana Highlands, the intrusions of magma into the sedimentary bedrock have led to the formation of immense slabs of the stone that sometimes are hundreds of meters long. The stone slab of jasper over which the creek flows is 300 meters long, and the water is just a few inches deep. The ripples in the water have carved long, parallel grooves and channels in the bedrock. In the shelter of this grooves, black algae grows that gives the riverbed a stripped appearance similar to tiger’s skin.

“The true brilliance of the jasper is apparent only when sunlight shines directly on wet stone,” writes IbexEarth. “When sunlight shines on the Firestone Creek, the magnificence of the cascades is revealed and the bedrock glows crimson and orange.”

Jasper Creek is not the only creek with a jasper bedrock. A lot of small streams throughout the Guiana Highlands cascade over layers of jasper or red hematite, but Jasper Creek is the largest and most spectacular of all. It is one of the most popular tourist spot in Gran Sabana.


Photo credit: Raphael Bick/Flickr


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Photo credit: Gosia Malochleb/Flickr


Photo credit: Gosia Malochleb/Flickr

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