Letter | Published:

Barrier Reefs as a Sign of a Subsiding Coast Line

Naturevolume 120pages1112 (1927) | Download Citation



IN my letter on the recession of the Tahitian coral reefs published in NATURE of April 23, proof is given of the original continuity of the present barrier reef from shore to ocean slope. The absence of a lagoon from parts of the coasts of both Tahiti and Moorea should alone prove that barrier reefs can no longer be taken as an index of subsidence without independent proof from the adjacent land, and the completion of the proof that barriers may be formed from broad reefs of the fringing type should be decisive. Further, I propose shortly to publish proof that in the adjacent but older island of Moorea there has been a tilting, resulting in subsidence of the south coast, which, though it took place during the growth of the reefs, has not made any difference to their form off that part of the island. The investigation of reef problems owes much to the numerous papers by Prof. Davis, which insist upon, and explain, the geological factors which it is essential to take into account. The biologist must, however, join in these researches, and it is much to be regretted that this side has been entirely neglected in Davis's work. One also misses any detailed local descriptions of the great series of reefs, old and new, which he has visited, that of Tahiti being the only one I have seen; this appears in French in Annales de Géographic, 1918. In this Prof. Davis gives reasons for believing that the island has undergone a large subsidence, with which conclusion, after much consideration given to the subject on the spot, I am quite unable to agree.

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  1. The Zoological Laboratory, Cambridge



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