Chapter

Coral Reefs of the USA

Volume 1 of the series Coral Reefs of the World pp 303-373

Ecology of Coral Reefs in the US Virgin Islands

  • Caroline S. RogersAffiliated withUS Geological Survey Caribbean Field Station
  • , Jeff MillerAffiliated withNational Park Service South Florida/Caribbean Inventory and Monitoring Network
  • , Erinn M. MullerAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Science, Florida Institute of Technology
  • , Peter EdmundsAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, California State University
  • , Richard S. NemethAffiliated withCenter for Marine and Environmental Studies, University of the Virgin Islands
  • , James P. BeetsAffiliated withDepartment of Marine Science, University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • , Alan M. FriedlanderAffiliated withBiogeography Team & The Oceanic Institute
  • , Tyler B. SmithAffiliated withCenter for Marine and Environmental Studies, University of the Virgin Islands
  • , Rafe BoulonAffiliated withNational Park Service, Virgin Islands National Park/Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument
    • , Christopher F. G. JeffreyAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityNational Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service
    • , Charles MenzaAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityNational Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service
    • , Chris CaldowAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityNational Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service
    • , Nasseer IdrisiAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityMacLean Marine Science Center, University of the Virgin Islands
    • , Barbara KojisAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityTropical Discoveries
    • , Mark E. MonacoAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityNational Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service
    • , Anthony SpitzackAffiliated withUS Geological Survey Caribbean Field Station
    • , Elizabeth H. GladfelterAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    • , John C. OgdenAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityFlorida Institute of Oceanography
    • , Zandy Hillis-StarrAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityNational Park Service Buck Island Reef National Monument
    • , Ian LundgrenAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityNational Park Service Buck Island Reef National Monument
    • , William Bane SchillAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityUS Geological Survey Leetown Science Center, National Fish Health Research Laboratory
    • , Ilsa B. KuffnerAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityUS Geological Survey
    • , Laurie L. RichardsonAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityDepartment of Biological Sciences, Florida International University
    • , Barry E. DevineAffiliated withNova Southeastern UniversityEastern Caribbean Center, University of the Virgin Islands
    • , Joshua D. VossAffiliated withUS Geological Survey Caribbean Field StationHarbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

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The US Virgin Islands (USVI ) in the northeastern Caribbean, consist of St. Croix (207 km2), St. Thomas (83 km2), St. John (52 km2) and numerous smaller islands (Dammann and Nellis 1992). They are part of the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Islands on the eastern boundary of the Caribbean plate (Fig. 8.1). An extensive platform underlies St. Thomas and St. John and connects these islands to Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands. This platform extends about 32 km north of the islands and then slopes gradually to depths of over 300 m and eventually descends into the 8,000 m deep Puerto Rican Trench. South of the islands, the platform extends about 13 km and then abruptly drops off to over 4,000 m. St. Croix, about 60 km to the south, is on a separate platform which is much shallower than the northern Virgin Islands’ platform and extends less than 5 km from shore except on the east end of the island. The deepest part of the Virgin Islands Trough that separates St. Thomas and St. John from St. Croix is 4,200 m.