The oldest igneous rocks on Maio are pillow lavas of Mid-Ocean Ridge pillow basalts character which have been tilted and uplifted about 4 km from the ocean floor to outcrop as a partial ring, dipping steeply away from a central plutonic complex made up of pyroxenites, essexites, syenites and carbonatites. The ocean floor volcanic rocks are overlain conformably by a stratigraphically continuous pelagic carbonate succession which demonstrates a shallowing depositional environment from the Upper Jurassic to Upper Cretaceous times, when tuffaceous beds indicate renewed volcanism. The tuffs are associated with rudites demonstrating the emergence of the island and amongst the clasts are plutonics indicating Upper Cretaceous magmatism and the unroofing of the volcano to a substantial depth. Deformation under compressive stress resulted in the folding and local repetition by thrusting of this sedimentary cover, which, together with the plutonic core, had been intensively injected by major sills.
The Mesozoic succession has been planed off and overlain with marked unconformity by a largely Neogene sequence of volcanic and terrestrial sedimentary rocks. There is a hiatus throughout the Palaeogene, and constructional activity appears to recommence with ankaramitic hyaloclastite and lava deltas and subaerial ankaramitic flows. These are overlain by fluvial sediments and tuffs.
Stratigraphically above these is an extensive plateau of silica-undersaturated lavas, olivine-melilitites and nephelinites, which rest on a planed and locally lateritized surface. At topographically higher levels in the eastern part of the island there are thick ankaramitic lavas and pyroclasts which evidently flowed eastward through valleys cut down into the Mesozoic strata, and appear to be of Pliocene age.
The subsequent history of the island appears to be non-volcanic.