Journal of Ocean University of China

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 115–123 | Cite as

Causes of land loss in Tuvalu, a small island nation in the pacific

  • Xue Chunting Email author
Research Papers


Studies on land loss in Tuvalu reveal the following findings. Although both sea level rise and coastal erosion can cause land loss in the tropic Pacific oceanic islands, their mechanisms are different. When sea level rises, the low elevation coastal zone submerges and the erosion datum plane rises, the beach process progresses normally as always, resulting in no beach sediment coarsening. When the sea level is stable, coastal erosion removes finer sediment from reef flat, beach and land, resulting in beach sediment coarsening. The human-induced coastal erosion in the tropic Pacific oceanic islands has the following features. 1) Erosion occurs or intensifies immediately after inappropriate human activities. 2) It occurs near the places having human activities and places related to the above places in sediment supply. 3) It often occurs on original prograding or stable coasts (on lagoon coasts for atolls) because there are more coastal engineering projects and other human activities on such coasts. 4) It is chronic, covering a long period of time. The coastal geological events in Tuvalu islands do not accord with the features resulted from sea level rise but do accord with the features resulted from coastal erosion, particularly from human-induced erosion. The land loss in Tuvalu is mainly caused by inappropriate human activities including coastal engineering and aggregate mining, and partly caused by cyclones. Moreover, all recent measurements (satellite altimetry, thermosteric sea level data and tide observations) so far have not been able to verify any sea level rise around Tuvalu islands.

Key Words

sea level rise land loss coastal erosion artificial channel aggregate mining 


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Copyright information

© Ocean University of China (OUC) 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Qingdao Institute of Marine GeologyQingdaoP.R.China

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