The Foundations of Atolls: First Explorations

  • D. R. Stoddart
Part of the Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources Earth Science Series book series (CIRCUM-PACIFIC, volume 14)

Abstract

Apart from a boring, about which little is known, in the Maldive Islands during 1834–1837 by R. Moresby, the two earliest attempts to drill an atoll were made in the Tuamotus in 1840–1841 by E. Belcher and R. E. Johnson. The prevailing belief was that atoll reefs were superficial veneers on the rims of volcanic craters. Specific knowledge of ocean depths surrounding atolls was lacking. The boring technology then available (for drilling water wells) appeared adequate for the anticipated thickness of the reefs, but all the bores made were entirely in sandy material and none reached a reef foundation. After Darwin published his theory of subsidence in 1842, with its deduced consequence of the existence of great thicknesses of shallow-water reef limestones beneath atoll rims, and after deep ocean soundings became available in the tropical Pacific in the 1870s, the perceived technical requirements for a successful boring to reef foundations were enormously increased. The first successful deep boring took place at Funafuti Atoll during 1896–1898, though it failed to reach reef foundations. Darwin’s theory was not demonstrated to be correct until more than 110 years after those first tentative attempts by Moresby, Belcher, and Johnson, when basalt was reached beneath shallow-water reef limestones at a depth of 1.2 km at Enewetak Atoll.

Keywords

Drilling Petrol Stratigraphy Auger Conglomerate 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agassiz, A., The islands and coral reefs of Fiji, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard Univ., 33, 1–167, 1899.Google Scholar
  2. Agassiz, G. R, ed., Letters and recollections of Alexander Agassiz with a sketch of his life and work, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1913.Google Scholar
  3. Beaglehole, J., ed., The Journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery: the voyage of the Endeavour 1768–1771, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1955.Google Scholar
  4. Beaglehole, J., ed., The Journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery. the voyage of the Resolution and Adventure 1772–1775, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1961.Google Scholar
  5. Beaglehole, J., ed., The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771, 2 vols., Public Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1962.Google Scholar
  6. Beaglehole, J., ed., The Journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery: the voyage of the Resolution and Discovery 1776–1780, 2 vols., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1967.Google Scholar
  7. Beechey, F. W., Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait, to co-operate with the polar expeditions, 2 vols., Colburn and Bentley, London, 1831.Google Scholar
  8. Belcher, E., Narrative of a voyage round the world performed in Her Majesty’s Ship Sulphur, during the years 1836–1842, 2 vols., Colburn, London, 1843.Google Scholar
  9. Bougainville, L. A. de, A voyage round the world, Nourse, London, 1772.Google Scholar
  10. Burkhardt, F. and Smith, S., eds., A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882, Garland Publishers, New York, 1983.Google Scholar
  11. Chamisso, A. von, Remarks and opinions of the naturalist of the expedition, in O. von Kotzebue, A voyage of discovery into the South Sea and Beering’s Straits for the purpose of exploring a north-east passage, undertaken in the years 1815–1818, 2, 349–433, 3, 1–318, Longman, London, 1821.Google Scholar
  12. Dana, J. D., United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. X. Geology. Sherman, Philadelphia, 1849.Google Scholar
  13. Dana, J. D., Corals and coral islands, Sampson Low, London, 1875.Google Scholar
  14. Dana, J. D., Origin of coral reefs and islands, Amer. J. Sci., (3) 30, 89–105, 169–191, 1885.Google Scholar
  15. Darwin, C. R, On certain areas of elevation and subsidence in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as deduced from the study of coral formations, Proc. Geol. Soc. Lond., 2, 552–554, 1838.Google Scholar
  16. Darwin, C. R, The structure and distribution of coral reefs, Smith, Elder, London, 1842.Google Scholar
  17. Darwin, F., ed., The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter, Murray, London, 3 vols., 1887.Google Scholar
  18. Darwin, F., and Seward, A. C., eds., More letters of Charles Darwin: a record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters, Murray, London, 2 vols, 1903.Google Scholar
  19. Dawson, L. S., Memoirs of hydrography including brief biographies of the principal officers who have served in H.M. Naval Surveying Service between the years 1750 and 1885, Henry Keay, Eastbourne, 2 vols, 1885.Google Scholar
  20. Day, A., The Admiralty Hydrographic Service 1795–1919, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1967.Google Scholar
  21. Deacon, M., Scientists and the sea 1650–1900: a study of marine science, Academic Press, New York, 1971.Google Scholar
  22. Deneufbourg, G., Les forages de Mumma, Cahiers du Pacifique, 13, 47–58, 1969.Google Scholar
  23. Forster, J. R, Observations made during a voyage round the world, on physical geography, natural history, and ethic philosophy, Robinson, London, 1778.Google Scholar
  24. Friendly, A., Beaufort of the Admiralty: the life of Sir Francis Beaufort 1774–1857, Hutchinson, London, 1977.Google Scholar
  25. Gaskell, T. F., and Swallow, J. C., Seismic experiments on two Pacific atolls, Occas. Papers Challenger Soc., 3, 1–8, 1953.Google Scholar
  26. Goudie, A., A note on Mediterranean beachrock: its history, Atoll Res. Bull., 126, 11–14, 1969.Google Scholar
  27. Hoare, M. E., ed., The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster 1772–1775, Cambridge University Press for the Hakluyt Society, Cambridge, 4 vols., 1982.Google Scholar
  28. Jukes, J. B., The school manual of geology, Black, Edinburgh, 1863.Google Scholar
  29. Ladd, H. S., Tracey, J. I., Jr., and Lill, G. G., Drilling on Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, Science, 107, 51–55, 1948.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ladd, H. S., Ingerson, E., Townsend, R C., Russell, M., and Stephenson, H. K., Drilling on Enewetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, Bull. Amer. Ass. Petrol. Geol., 37, 2257–2280, 1953.Google Scholar
  31. Lyell, C., Corals and coral reefs, Principles of Geology, 2, 283–301, Murray, London, 1832.Google Scholar
  32. MacLeod, R, Imperial reflections in the southern seas: the Funafuti expeditions, 1896–1904, Abstr. XVII Int. Congr. Hist. Sci. (Berkeley, 1985), 8. 2, 1985.Google Scholar
  33. Moresby, R, Extracts from Commander Moresby’s report on the northern atolls of the Maldivas, J. Roy. Geogr. Soc., 5, 398–404, 1835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moresby, R, Nautical directions for the Maldive Islands and Chagos Archipelago, East India Company, London, 1840.Google Scholar
  35. Moresby, R, Reports on the Maldivas, Trans. Bombay Geogr. Soc., 1, 102–108, 1844.Google Scholar
  36. Quoy, J. R, and Gaimard, J. P., Memoire sur l’accroissement des polypes lithophytes considere geologiquement, Voyage autour du monde entrepris par ordre du Roi par M. Louis de Freycinet: Zoologie, 658–671, Pillet Aine, Paris, 1824.Google Scholar
  37. Royal Society of London, 1904, The atoll of Funafuti; borings into a coral reef and the results, being the report of the Coral Reef Committee of the Royal Society: London, The Royal Society of London, 420 pp..Google Scholar
  38. Sharp, A., The discovery of the Pacific islands, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1960.Google Scholar
  39. Sluiter, C. P., Die Korallentheorie von Eschscholtz, Zool. Anz., 400, 326–327, 1892.Google Scholar
  40. Stanton, W., The great United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1975.Google Scholar
  41. Stoddart, D. R., Darwin, Lyell, and the geological significance of coral reefs, Br. J. Hist. Sci., 9, 199–218, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tyler, D. B., The Wilkes Expedition: the first United States Exploring Expedition (1838–1842), Mem. Amer. Philos. Soc. Philadephia, 73, 1–435, 1968.Google Scholar
  43. Viola, H. J., and Margolis, C., eds., Magnificent voyagers: the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1985.Google Scholar
  44. Wilkes, C., Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, G. P. Putnam, New York, 5 vols., 1856 (originally published by Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia, 1845).Google Scholar
  45. Wilkes, C., Autobiography of Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, U.S. Navy, 1798–1897, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Stoddart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

Personalised recommendations