Niue – the world’s largest uplifted atoll

We arrived at Niue mid morning, and by midday we had cleared customs and immigration. I then spent some time discussing our project with government officials to obtain permission to undertake our research activities. No collections were made today, though Irene and Richie did a dive to take some photos.

Niue is the largest uplifted atoll in the world.

Niue is the largest uplifted atoll in the world. It is unusual in the evolution of atolls, where usually the volcano base of an atoll tends to sink, forming a lagoon ringed by coral reef.

The base of Niue has been uplifted so the entire landmass is actually a coral reef that has been lifted well above sea level. Thus the whole island is a makatea, or limestone reef rock, that is above sea level.

This has left the island with a perfectly horizontal profile, mirroring the former sea level of the reef, plus another lower plateau that rings the island. Since the earlier uplifting events, another fringing reef has formed around the island. Being relatively soft limestone, there are many caves above and below the sea level.

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3 Responses to “Niue – the world’s largest uplifted atoll”

  1. Clinton Duffy

    Hi guys,

    Sounds like a great trip so far. I hope you get the chance to sample at Niue. Keep your eye out for sharks and rays of all sorts. Very little is known of the chondrichthyan fauna from there. Looking forward to seeing your list for Minerva Reef and all the deepwater sharks you’re going to collect on the Tonga Ridge :-) but keep an eye out for tigers. There is some great YouTube footage of yachties feeding them in the lagoon.

    All the best,


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