West Papua Unique Geography Exploring Landscape and Geology

West Papua

The formation of West Papua Island, similar to a bird’s appearance, is the result of geological processes over hundreds of millions of years.

The West Papua region is in the neck. A little part of it comprises mountains, land, and other landscapes.

Geology of Papua Island

The island of West Papua is described as a bird flying westward with its mouth open.

Geographically the island of Papua is divided into Bird’s Head, Bird’s Neck, Bird’s Body, and Bird’s Tail.

The geology of Papua is very complex, involving the interaction between two tectonic plates, the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate.

In general, the concept of plate tectonics of the earth’s crust is divided into seven major plates and several minor plates.

Each scale consists of parts of continental and oceanic crust, all moving relative to each other. The southern part of West Papua forms the northern edge of the ancient giant continent of Gondwanaland.

It includes Antarctica, Australia, India, South America, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. The separation began approximately 100 million years ago.

The Indian-Australian Continental Plate moved northward from its polar position. It collided with the Pacific Ocean Plate, which moved westward.

The island of Papua is a product of continental growth resulting from this collision.

Terrain Condition

In general, the physiography of West Papua Province consists of coastal and island areas, lowlands and swamps, highlands and mountains, and basins and valleys.

To the south and west are limestone plateaus, alluvial plains, and wetlands.

The lowlands are bisected by a bay running east-west and flanked by swamps and plains of recent and late Tertiary alluvium called Bintuni Bay, which resembles a bird’s mouth.

In the west are the Raja Ampat islands. Lowlands are find north of Misool Island and south of Salawati Island.

The small island of Numfor, north of Manokwari, has two hilly areas with elevations of more than 110 m above sea level.

West Papua Waters

The rise and fall of sea level can occur once or twice a day. The tidal range is the difference between the water level at the highest high tide and the minimum low tide.

The geometry of the area concerned also influences tides.

The tidal range in Papua waters reaches 3-6 meters. Sea waves are form due to energy transfer from the wind to the sea surface, at certain times cause by earthquakes on the seabed.

The southern waters of Papua have water mass characteristics that are different from other Indonesian waters.

This condition is due to the geographical location of these waters, which are adjacent and more open to the Banda Sea, Timor Sea, and Indian Ocean.

Large to small rivers originating from the mountainous region in the central part of the Bird’s Head empty into Bintuni Bay.

In addition, several rivers flow southward and open into the south and north coasts.

Forest and Land Resources

The Bird’s Head region of Papua Island is include in the West Papua government administration, consisting of eight regencies and one municipality.

The total area reaches 138,915 km2. Of this area, the forest area is estimate to reach 97,239 km2.

The forest area of Papua Province has various designations. The production forest function occupies the highest proportion.

Production forest consists of permanent production forest, limited production forest, and conversion production forest.

This forest area needs to be maintain for the long term. Other uses of the forest area are residential lands and cultivate lands.

This land use should be a concern so as not to damage the overall ecosystem.

The unique geology and landscape of West Papua provide great natural resource potential.

Therefore, the management and supervision of the government should be carry out systematically.