Amber Changing to Blue

If you want to understand Dominican Blue Amber better, you need to learn about the geological history of amber. Many of the facts regarding this history are still controversial amongst the scientific community.

The general consensus is that a big tree which is now extinct called the Hymenaea Protera was what squeezed out all this resin.

Algarrobo tree
Algarrobo tree

This is believed because the amber’s insides had flower petals in it. These petals are similar to the ones found on the Algarroba tree which still grows today. The Hymenaea Protera is the ancestor of the Algarroba tree.

The trunk and roots of the tree discharge a reddish yellow resin and cause solid lumps to form that get buried at the base of the tree within the soil. Lots of this resin has been discovered, which became copal after it turned hard. Merchants tend to sell this copal to tourists by telling them it is amber. They can’t tell the difference.

The Algarroba trees do not discharge resin unless lightning strikes it. The theory is that a fire or lightning strike was the reason that an entire forest bled vast amounts of resin. Numerous living things in the forest happened to get stuck in this sticky resin which include extremely well-preserved plant remains, land invertebrates and land vertebrates  reptiles, remains of mammals and birds). Scientists think this because small amounts of ash and other evidence from a fire were discovered within the amber. Speculation suggests that the fires’ intense heat caused the molecular structure of the amber to change and form a blue colour.

The only way that the resin could remain looking clear, it needed to have fast weather protection. This certainly happened and ironically, it was because of the weather. All the rain in this area had caused the topsoil to wash around the down-slope of the trees. This made the soil wash into the Comatillo Basin’s coastal areas and lagoons.

It is estimated that about 18 million years ago, Amber still had the name “copal.” The island of Hispaniola did not even exist. There were probably a lot of tinier islands instead that came to exist just a couple of million years beforehand. These islands probably formed when the tectonic plates of North America and the Caribbean had collided with each other. There was one island from this bunch which held the ancient forest of the Algarroba trees.

The Comatillo Basin is a paleogeographic basic – because there is no such feature in the topography of the island . There was no other place where copal could have changed into amber. On the other hand, small amounts of Amber were discovered in Puerto Rico and Cuba. But the Comatillo Basin of the Atlantis region had the best conditions for it to form there.

Like mentioned before, the copal was starting to go straight to the bottom of this marine environment. As it sunk down deeper into the water, there were so many tons of weight on it from the water pressing down. Meanwhile, additional debris was building up on the top. Scientists believe the copal was 300 feet below the surface in the water. Soon it was going through diegetic changes. From the pressure of the water and the depth it was in, the copal converted into amber.

The assumption is that lava flowed on top of the copal deposits and caused the blue colour to form. But this assumption has been disproven, so perhaps the hot temperature from the depth and pressure made this happen.

We know that heat can turn copal into amber, but it doesn’t always turn it blue. Otherwise, blue would be the colour of all the amber.

The tectonic plates began acting up again about a couple of million years later. Huge areas of Atlantis were suddenly gone from the sea, while other areas went for the skies above. The Comatillo Basin had its base turn into mountain ranges, causing the deposits of amber to head for the clouds.

Marine microorganisms, mollusks, planktonic, dugongs, crocodile fossils, turtles, fish teeth, and various marine animals were discovered in amber-based soil. Blue amber was even found which had saltwater snails stuck to it. Apparently, the liquid-based amber came into the shells of the snails.

After the mountain range came up from the ocean’s bottom, nature brought wind, rain, and animals to the terrain. They were responsible for altering the ranges and creating what we today call the Cordilleras Septentrional and Oriental. Pieces of amber found their way into the rivers once the dirt had been freed. The native inhabitants of this land, the Taino Indians, were the first to discover these amber pieces. Then, the Europeans discovered the island and were introduced to the amber too. However, these European explorers had seen the amber before in the Baltic region. They didn’t care so much about it because they were only after gold. For 500 years, it remained like this until the value of amber became more noticeable.

Okay, so what about the blue colour?

Many new scientific hypotheses and findings of where amber came from are disputing the old theories regarding why amber is blue. There was no more volcanic activity on either Atlantis or Hispaniola during the Miocene period. This means that the heat which was responsible for the molecular changes did not come from lava. One theory is that while resin was excreted, there was heat and smoke from this which caused those changes. This would be why the Blue Amber has few enclosures.

All these estimates are simply based on what could have possibly happened back then. Any more questions regarding Blue Amber will probably get answered in the future as more discoveries are made. Find out more here.