Dear Section Members,
At the front of erosion: landscape and archaeology on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Sue Hamilton, Mike Seager Thomas, Felipe Armstrong
A UCL team are currently working with the Chilean National Parks Authority (CONAF) and CAMN the Rapa Nui advisory to the Chilean Monuments in assessing and characterising the impact of severe erosion on Rapa Nui’s heritage and natural environment. This work draws upon the expertise of the ‘Rapa Nui Landscapes of Construction Project’ based at UCL.
Poike is a large and distinct topographic unit at the east end of Rapa Nui, with restricted access and surrounded on three sides by vast sheer, sea cliffs. It is effectively an island in an island with a unique set of monuments in a distinct environment, severely impacted upon by on-going erosion.
Topographically it comprises the oldest of Rapa Nui’s shield volcanos and has a different, deeply weathered geology, with few surviving stone outcrops. Poike provides important perspectives on the nature of Rapa Nui’s monuments and the variability of Rapa Nui prehistory, land use and prehistoric communities.
The erosional front now occurs several 100 metres inland from the cliff edge and washed out and deflated and destabilised monuments include unique ceremonial platforms, quarries for stone blocks, rock art and settlement structures. CONAF has a tree planting programme to stabilise the front and this is under discussion with respect to the remaining monuments in the erosion zone.