Coral Reefs

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 57–68 | Cite as

Late Holocene sea level indicators from twelve atolls in the central and eastern Tuamotus (Pacific Ocean)

  • P. A. Pirazzoli
  • L. F. Montaggioni
  • B. Salvat
  • G. Faure


New sea-level data for the late Holocene period are reported from twelve atolls of the Tuamotu archipelago: Faaite, Hikueru, Marokau, Hao, Amanu, Tatakoto, Pukarua, Nukutavake, Vairaatea, Tureia, Nukutipipi, and Hereheretue. The data come from coral conglomerate outcrops, coral colonies in growth position, in situ reef framework and marine notches; they give consistent results, and their ages are controlled by 29 radiocarbon datings. The Holocene MSL remained 0.8±0.2 m higher than at present, from before 4000 years BP until at least 1500 years BP, then dropped gradually to the present level. This pattern is very similar to that reported from the northwest Tuamotus, suggesting the absence of measurable differential vertical movements over a distance greater than 1300 km during the late Holocene. Effects of the 1983 cyclones on reef morphology are reported from some atolls and radiocarbon dates of some storm-generated reef blocks are given.


Cyclone Holocene Atoll Radiocarbon Date Coral Coloni 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bellon H (1974) Histoire géochronométrique des îles Gambier. Cah Pac 18:245–251Google Scholar
  2. Bourrouilh-Le Jan FG, Talandier J (1985) Sédimentation et fracturation de haute énergie en milieu récifal: Tsunamis, ouragans et cyclones et leurs effets sur la sédimentologie et la géomorphologie d'un atoll: motu et hoa, à Rangiroa, Tuamotu, Pacifique SE. Mar Geol 67:263–333Google Scholar
  3. Cazenave A, Lago B, Dominh K, Lambeck K (1980) On the response of the ocean lithosphere to sea-mount loads from Geos 3 satellite radar altimeter observations. Geophys J R Astron Soc 63:233–252Google Scholar
  4. Chappell J, Chivas A, Wallensky E, Polach HA, Aharon P (1983) Holocene palaeo-environmental changes, central to north Great Barrier Reef inner zone. BMR J Geol Geophys 8:223–235Google Scholar
  5. Clague DA, Jarrard RD (1973) Tertiary Pacific plate motion deduced from the Hawaiian-Emperor chain. Geol Soc Am Bull 84:1135–1154Google Scholar
  6. Davies PJ, Montaggioni L (1985) Reef growth and sea-level change: the environmental signature. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 3:477–515Google Scholar
  7. Delibrias G, Guillier MT, Labeyrie J (1974) Gif natural radiocarbon measurements. VIII. Radiocarbon 16:15–94Google Scholar
  8. D'Hauteserre A (1978) Le climat de la Polynésie Francaise. Monographie 107 de la Météorologie Nationale, pp 1–67Google Scholar
  9. Duncan RA, Clague DA (1985) Pacific plate-motion recorded by linear volcanic chains. In: Nairn AEM, Stehli FG, Uyeda S (eds) The Oceans basins and margins. The Pacific Ocean, vol 7A. Plenum, New York London, pp 89–121Google Scholar
  10. Duncan RA, McDougall I, Carter RM, Coombs DS (1974) Pitcairn Island-another Pacific hot spot? Nature 251:679–682Google Scholar
  11. Friedman GM, Amiel AJ, Schneidermann N (1974) Submarine cementation in reefs. Examples from the Red Sea. J Sediment Petrol 44:816–825Google Scholar
  12. Gibb JG (1986) A New Zealand regional Holocene eustatic sea-level curve and its applications to determination of vertical tectonic movements. R Soc NZ Bull 24:377–395Google Scholar
  13. Ginsburg RN, Marszalek DS, Schneidermann N (1971) Ultrastructure of carbonate cements in an Holocene algal reef of Bermuda. J Sediment Petrol 41:472–482Google Scholar
  14. Harris PM, Kendall CG, Lerche I (1985) Carbonate cementation — a brief review. In: Schneidermann N, Harris PM (eds) Carbonate cements. Soc Econ Paleontol Mineral Spec Publ 36:79–95Google Scholar
  15. Hopley D (1987) Holocene sea-level changes in Australasia and the Southern Pacific. In: Devoy RJN (ed) Sea surfaces studies. Croom Helm, London New York Sydney, pp 375–407Google Scholar
  16. James NP, Ginsburg RN, Marszalek DS, Choquette PW (1976) Facies and fabric specificity of early subsea cements in shallow Belize (British Honduras) reefs. J Sediment Petrol 46:523–544Google Scholar
  17. Labeyrie J, Lalou C, Delibrias G (1969) Etude des transgressions marines sur l'atoll de Mururoa par la datation des différents niveaux de corail. Cah Pac 13:59–68Google Scholar
  18. Longman MW (1980) Carbonate diagenetic textures from nearsurface diagenetic environments. Am Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 64:461–487Google Scholar
  19. Macintyre IG (1977) Distribution of submarine cements in a modern Caribbean fringing reef, Galeta Point, Panama. J Sediment Petrol 47:503–516Google Scholar
  20. Montaggioni LF (1977) Structure interne d'un récif corallien holocène (île de la Réunion, Océan Indien). In: Mem BRGM 89, 2nd Int Symp Fossil Coral Reefs, Paris, September 1975, pp 456–466Google Scholar
  21. Montaggioni LF, Pirazzoli PA (1984) The significance of exposed coral conglomerates from French Polynesia (Pacific Ocean) as indicators of recent sea-level changes. Coral Reefs 3:29–42Google Scholar
  22. Monti S, Pautot G (1973–1974) Bathymétrie Pacifique Sud. 1:1 000 000. Raroia, Mururoa Hao, Tahiti. Centre Océanologique de BretagneGoogle Scholar
  23. Newell RE (1974) Changes in the poleward energy flux by the atmosphere and ocean as a possible cause for the Ice Ages. Q Res 4:117–127Google Scholar
  24. Pirazzoli PA (1986) Marine notches. In: Van de Plassche O (ed) Sea-level research: a manual for the collection and evaluation of data. Geo Books, Norwich, pp 361–400Google Scholar
  25. Pirazzoli PA, Montaggioni LF (1985) Lithospheric deformation in French Polynesia (Pacific Ocean) as deduced from Quaternary shorelines. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 3:195–200Google Scholar
  26. Pirazzoli PA, Montaggioni LF (1986) Late Holocene sea-level changes in the northwest Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia. Q Res 25: 350–368Google Scholar
  27. Pirazzoli PA, Delibrias G, Montaggioni LF, Saliège JF, Vergnaud-Grazzini C (1987a) Vitesse de croissance latérale des platiers et évolution morphologique récente de l'atoll de Reao, îles Tuamotu, Polynésie française. Ann Inst Océanogr 63:57–68Google Scholar
  28. Pirazzoli PA, Montaggioni LF, Vergnaud-Grazzini C, Saliège JF (1987b) Late Holocene sea levels and coral reef development in Vahitahi Atoll, eastern Tuamotu Islands, Pacific Ocean. Mar Geol 76:105–116Google Scholar
  29. Pirazzoli PA, Koba M, Montaggioni LF, Person A (1988) Anaa (Tuamotu Islands, Central Pacific): an incipient rising atoll? Mar Geol (in press)Google Scholar
  30. Pocklington R (1972) Secular changes in the ocean off Bermuda. J Geophys Res 77:6604–6607Google Scholar
  31. Ricard M (1985) Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 1:159–210Google Scholar
  32. Richard G (1970) Etude sur Mollusques récifaux des atolls de Reao et de Hereheretue (Tuamotu, Polynésie): relations et évaluations quantitatives. Diplôme EPHE, Paris, pp 1–102Google Scholar
  33. Rocaboy A (1987) Pétrogenèse des basaltes en contexte intraplaque océanique. Univ Clermont-Ferrand 2, Inst Géol Rapport DEAGoogle Scholar
  34. Roemmich D, Wunsch C (1984) Apparent changes in the climate state of the deep North Atlantic Ocean. Nature 307:447–450Google Scholar
  35. Service de la Météorologie (1983) Résumé des observations en surface. Direction Service Aviation Civile en Polynésic françaiseGoogle Scholar
  36. Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine (SHOM) (1981) Annuaire des marées pour l'an 1983. Tome II. Ports d'Outre-Mer, Paris, pp 1–229Google Scholar
  37. Spencer T, Stoddart DR, Woodroffe CD (1987) Island uplift and lithospheric flexure: observations and cautions from the South Pacific. Z Geomorphol [Suppl] 63:87–102Google Scholar
  38. Stoddart DR (1969) Reconnaissance geomorphology of Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago. Atoll Res Bull 125:1–31Google Scholar
  39. Teissier R (1969) Les cyclones en Polynésie francaise. Bull Soc Et Océan 14:1–48Google Scholar
  40. Tracey JI, Ladd HS (1974) Quaternary history of Eniwetok and Bikini atolls, Marshall Islands. Proc 2nd Int Coral Reef Symp 2:537–550Google Scholar
  41. Yonekura N, Matsushima Y, Maeda Y, Kayanne H (1984) Holocene sea-level changes in the southern Cook Islands. In: Sea-level changes and tectonics in the middle Pacific. Report of the HIPAC Project in 1981, 1982 and 1983. Department of Earth Sciences, Kobe University, JapanGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. A. Pirazzoli
    • 1
    • 4
  • L. F. Montaggioni
    • 2
    • 4
  • B. Salvat
    • 3
    • 4
  • G. Faure
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.(CNRS)ParisFrance
  2. 2.Université de la RéunionSainte-Clotilde, Réunion IslandFrance DOM
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Biologie Marine et Malacologie, E.P.H.E., Centre Biol. Ecol. Trop. Méd.Université de PerpignanPerpignan CédexFrance
  4. 4.Centre de l'Environnement de MooreaAntenne Museum-EPHEMooreaFrench Polynesia

Personalised recommendations