As W. M. Davis (1928) wrote, “no other archipelago in the Pacific coral seas includes so systematic a sequence of island forms as those of the Society group. The sequence begins with a young and reefless volcanic island on the east and ends in several small atolls on the northwest.” This pattern is related to the increasing age of volcanoes from east to west and an associated development of reef growth. According to recent views on ocean floor evolution, such a pattern – which is by no means unique in the Central and South Pacific – may result, as in the case of the Galapagos rise from the migration of the oceanic plate over a hot spot, in the expression of a narrow plume of subsurface mantle material rising and spreading outward. As the plate moves, successive volcanoes come into existence and subsequently become extinct. Fringing reefs develop, and as the islands subside these become barrier reefs and eventually atolls, such as Tizpai, Mopelia (Guilcher et al. 1969),...
KeywordsFringe Reef Barrier Reef Society Island Central Island Large Volcano
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