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Holocene emergence in the Cook Islands, South Pacific


There is evidence of Holocene emergence on several of the Cook Islands. On Suwarrow Atoll there are extensive outcrops of emergent, but truncated, reef on the northern atoll rim, radiocarbon-dated 4680–4310 years B. P., overlain by younger cemented boulder conglomerates. On the northeast of the atoll there are fossil algal ridges indicating up to 1 m of emergence; the landwardmost has been dated 4220 years B. P., the intermediate one 3420 years B. P. and the present one 1250 years B. P. On Mitiaro, a makatea island in the Southern Cooks, there are emergent reefal deposits in the centre of the reef flat dated 5140–3620 years B. P. Similar thought poorly preserved deposits occur on Mauke, and an erosional bench and notch occurs on Atiu. Emergence on all islands appears synchronous with that reported on Mangaia, where a relative fall of sea level of at least 1.7 m in the last 3400 years has been reported. The evidence for emergence is broadly similar to that described from French Polynesia, though timing of emergence appears to differ.

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Woodroffe, C.D., Stoddart, D.R., Spencer, T. et al. Holocene emergence in the Cook Islands, South Pacific. Coral Reefs 9, 31–39 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00686719

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  • Holocene
  • Boulder
  • Conglomerate
  • Sedimentology
  • Atoll