Publication Details

Ramalho, R. S., Quartau, R., Trenhaile, A. S., Mitchell, N. C., Woodroffe, C. D. & Avila, S. P. (2013). Coastal evolution on volcanic oceanic islands: a complex interplay between volcanism, erosion, sedimentation, sea-level change and biogenic production. Earth-Science Reviews, 127 140-170.


The growth and decay of oceanic hotspot volcanoes are intrinsically related to a competition between volcanic construction and erosive destruction, and coastlines are at the forefront of such confrontation. In this paper, we review the several mechanisms that interact and contribute to the development of coastlines on oceanic island volcanoes, and how these processes evolve throughout the islands' lifetime. Volcanic constructional processes dominate during the emergent island and subaerial shield-building stages. During the emergent island stage, surtseyan activity prevails and hydroclastic and pyroclastic structures form; these structures are generally ephemeral because they can be rapidly obliterated by marine erosion. With the onset of the subaerial shield-building stage, coastal evolution is essentially characterized by rapid but intermittent lateral growth through the formation of lava deltas, largely expanding the coastlines until they, typically, reach their maximum extension. With the post-shield quiescence in volcanic activity, destructive processes gradually take over and coastlines retreat, adopting a more prominent profile; mass wasting and marine and fluvial erosion reshape the landscape and, if conditions are favorable, biogenic processes assume a prominent role. Post-erosional volcanic activity may temporarily reverse the balance by renewing coastline expansion, but islands inexorably enter in a long battle for survival above sea level. Reef growth and/or uplift may also prolong the island's lifetime above the waves. The ultimate fate of most islands, however, is to be drowned through subsidence and/or truncation by marine erosion.



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