A Reconnaissance and Geomorphological Survey of Temoe Atoll, Gambier Islands (South Pacific)


  • Paolo A Pirazzoli


Coastal geomorphology, coral reef, lagoon, Holocene, remote sensing, reef flat, coastal lagoon, hoa, motu, sea-level change


This is an account of the geomorphology, hydrology, and late Holocene evolution of the southernmost atoll in French Polynesia. A few bathymetric profiles and the use of a LANDSAT-3 satellite scene enabled a map to be made of the average water depths in the lagoon. the volume of which is estimated at 0.173 km3. Exchanges between the closed lagoon and the ocean are very limited in normal times, but the lagoon level can quite easily be raised 1.5 m by wave set up phenomena due to heavy austral swells. Until less than 2,000 yr B.P., when sea level was some 0.8 m higher than at present, much of the atoll rim was at water level. The following sea-level drop caused emergence, broadening of islands with vegetation and, more recently, precarious settlements of refugees from Mangareva. Since A. D. 1838, however, the atoll has been uninhabited.

Author Biography

Paolo A Pirazzoli