Langkawi Geopark Information


About Langkawi Geopark
The Langkawi Geopark, comprising all of the 99  islands in the Langkawi archipelago is Malaysia’s first Geopark. It is located in the north-western corner of peninsular Malaysia within the State of Kedah. The total land area of Langkawi Geopark is about 478 square kilometres.

The main island is accessible by sea from Kuala Perlis , Kuala Kedah and Penang or by air from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore.

Identified as the 'birthplace' or fetus land of the region, the terrain and natural landscape reflect the geo-diversity of the islands that is deeply entrenched within the complex geological history of the area. Langkawi Geopark has the best-exposed and most complete Palaeozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia originating from the beginning of the Cambrian to the Permian period. Later, during the Mesozoic era, the islands underwent a major tectonic even that resulted in the emplacement of its numerous granitic igneous bodies. This incredible power generated by nature from deep beneath the earth's mantle had pushed up huge blocks of older rocks and placed them above a very much younger terrain.

In Langkawi geological history, much of the development is linked to events that occurred during the time of the  prehistoric supercontinent of  Pangaea and the southern hemispheric Gondwanaland more than 550 million years ago. It probably began with the deposition of the Machinchang sandstone in a lacustrine environment during much of the Cambrian time. This was followed by the submergence of the land during the late Cambrian period (~500m.y.), which saw the invasion of shallow marine fauna into the seas around Langkawi. The continuous subsidence of the sea floor resulted in the formation of thick limestone of what is known as the Setul Formation during the Ordovician period ( `440m.y.), at the end of which  the sea became too deep, causing the limestone deposition to cease.

The Setul limestone continued to develop from the Silurian until the Middle Devonian ( ~370 m.y.) period, followed by the deposition of sandstone and mudstone  - an occurrence that is related  to the rafted ice during the melting of the Gondwana ice cap.

The Chuping limestone is believed to have stopped depositing before the end of the Permian era (~245 m.y.) by this tectonic event that among others had brought up a large block of earth crust in the eastern part of Langkawi and overlapping the much younger block in the west. The tectonic event ended with the emplacement of granite beneath the Langkawi crust at the end of the Triassic (`220 m.y.) era. The black sandstone and mudstone of the Singa Formation evolved during the early Permian era (~280 m.y), before the sea level was slowly brought up by a complicated tectonic process.

What we have in Langkawi today are the combined results of these processes. The prolonged weathering that took place ever since the land mass of Langkawi was brought to the surface around 220 million years ago has produced a beautiful mountainous range of Machinchang sandstone at the northwestern corner, the conical Gunung Raya granite at the center and a rugged terrain of Setul limestone in the east. In the southwest, the Singa Formation dominates, while the Chuping limestone found itself in the western part of Pulau Dayang Bunting. Some of the landscapes are truly outstanding, particularly those of the Machinchang and the karstic limestone in the eastern part of Langkawi.

Based on its outstanding geological landscape and other associated features such as the sedimentary structures, fossils and erosional effects, Langkawi certainly is geological heritage of high value.The Langkawi islands are mainly protected under the jurisdiction of the Permanent Forest Reserves, Recreational Forest or Geoforest Park that are overseered by the Forestry Department.


The Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park hosts the oldest geological formation in Malaysia known as the Machinchang Formation. Among the important geosites in the park are Teluk Datai (where the oldest deposits of sand rest), Pantai Tengkorak (where the old continent had been submerged – exhibiting fine examples of sedimentary structures). Tanjung Buta / Pulau Jemuruk (graveyards of the oldest life forms in the country) and Tanjung Sabung (where the limestone succeeds sandstone). Also located within the park are some natural wonders that had resulted from recent geological processes such as the Temurun and Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls, remnant islands of Anak Burau and Anak Datai and the beautiful beaches in Teluk Datai and Pantai Kok. The Machinchang peak exhibits peculiarly chopped sandstone that has often been associated with the colourful folk myth of the brawl between the two giants,  Mat Chinchang and Mat Raya . The Machinchang ridges can be classified as one of the most beautiful landscapes in the area.


The Kilim Geoforest Park features limestone dominating the eastern part of the main Langkawi Island and the adjacent small islands of the Setul Formation. Magnificently formed landscape of nearly vertical to subrounded karstic hills with pinnacles of various shapes and sizes, can be viewed. The northeast region of Langkawi, which comprises the three river basins of Kilim, Air Hangat,  Kisap and the neigbouring island of Langgun and Tanjung Dendang are spectacular in its beauty. The birds and the cave system found in this area have also contributed to the myths and legends of the islands. The name ‘Langkawi’ is said to have been derived from the Brahminy Kite eagle, the most dominant faunal species in the area. Gua Cerita  (Cave of Stories), which lies in the northern tip of the region has many legends and beliefs associated with the giant mythological bird, Garuda. The epic battle between Rama and Rawana and Sang Gedembai – a human-like giant female creature with a power to curse anything and turning it into stone.

Within these Geoforest Parks, caves are plentiful for exploration activities, while a collapsed cave has formed two of the biggest fresh water lakes, namely Tasik Langgun and Pulau Dayang Bunting. Among the caves found in the parks include Gua Tok Jangkit, Gua Teluk Dedap, Gua Cerita, Gua Teluk Udang , Gua Siam, Gua Buaya, Gua Tanjung Dendang and Gua Kelawar.
The ecosystems of the old limestone rock formation, the caves, the mudflats and the seas that surround it have three main vegetation: the mangroves, the vegetation of the limestone hills and the flora of the mudflats and beaches.

A mangrove forest promotes a unique root system with a physiology of the plant species that are capable of preventing soil erosion and cleaning the water contaminated with metallic pollutants. The mangrove also serve as breeding grounds to many species of fishes, prawn and other sea life. The mangrove vegetation in this area is quite diverse and includes many important species; some with medicinal properties. The limestone hills of the area have a rich diversity of species of ornamental plants such as the cycads and orchids, the limestone rocks also support many bryophytic flora, lichens and macro fungi. Forty-five species of birds have so far been recorded in the respective areas and this list includes ten migratory species. The most prominent among the raptor species found along the sea coast and the river of the northeast region are the Brahminy Kite and white-bellied sea eagle. The two raptor species are among the more popular attractions. Other examples of biodiversity that exist on the mudflats, the beaches and the sea are mudskippers and phytoplankton. A total of seven species of mudskippers have been identified and 129 species of marine and 55 of freshwater phytoplanktons recorded.

Bats are among the faunal species prominent in the area. Three species that roost on the walls of  the well known Gua Kelawar (Cave of the Bats) have been identified . The limestone forests are also home to myriads of small and tiny faunal species, of which the beetles have attracted special interest. Many species were collected from the forest of the Pulau Tanjung Dendang, Pulau Langgun and Gua Cerita and one of them is the smallest beetle in the world, collected in Pulau Tanjung Dendang. Some of these beetle species are rare, some yet to be identified.
The Langkawi archipelago is rich in fossils of ancient and extinct sea creatures from the Paleozoic era spanning between 542 million years and 257 million years ago. Several species of brachiopod were found and identified. Among the fossils found are those of a 280 million year-old brachiopod, which is also known as lamp shells, and 400 million year old fossils of scypho crinites  in Teluk Mempelam on Pulau Langgun. An alien granite dropstone that is at least 1 billion years old can be found in a sandstone and mudstone rock formation in Pulau Tepor southwest of Langkawi. It is the oldest drop stone ever found in the region. This drop stone once drifted along in a glacier before it was dropped in Langkawi hundreds of million years ago. Another geological treasure in Langkawi comes in the form of ancient seabed located in Pulau Ular.


The Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park mainly comprises the Permian overthrusted by the older Setul Formation limestone. These finest marbles resulted from the baking of Chuping Limestone by small granite intrusion underneath. There are a number of caves within the park. One of the most unique features of the park is the Tasik Dayang Bunting, a fresh water lake.
A large mangrove forest flourish along the Selat Dayang Bunting ( Dayang Bunting Straits) . The combination of landscapes from marble and granite bedrocks formed a figure resembling a pregnant woman on her back, hence, the name Tasik Dayang Bunting or Lake of the Pregnant Maiden.


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