Vanuabalavu Island

Panuabalavu Island

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"Current archaeological finds in the cave of Qaranilaca, Vanuabalavu Island, Fiji" by Thomas, Frank R.; Nunn, Patrick D.; Osborne, Tamara; Kumar, Roselyn; Areki, Francis; Matarararaba, Sepeti; Steadman, David; Hope, Geoff - Archaeology in Oceania, Vol. 39, Issue 1, April 2004

In the south-east of Vanuabalavu island, north-east Fiji, a large ocean cavity was dug up and used by people from about 1100 calcium BP with fast pile-up. It is likely to have become more important as it served as a place where the ocean was boiled before being transported to the surrounding hillside villages that were created as a result of changes in the environment that affected the watercoast.

Proof of the pre-historic settlement of the Vanuabalavu archipelago in North Lau, Fiji, was found in 1999 by a research group from the University of the South Pacific and the Fiji Museum (Nunn and Matararaba 2000). As part of this work, a large cavern called Qaranilaca or "cave of the sail" on the principal peninsula Vanuabalavu was examined, although no indications of a lapita population were found there (Nunn et al. 2000).

At the end of 2000 further work was done on Vanuabalavu, among them large excavation work in Qaranilaca and on the island of Mago near by. The results of the Qaranilaca excavation are reported in this document. Vanuabalavu Group, referred to by the United States Exploring Expedition 1838-1842 as Exploring Isles, is enclosed by a unique barricade coral and is made up of Vanuabalavu, Namalata, Susui, Munia, Cikobia-i-Lau, Sovu and Avea Islands (Figure 1).

Vanuabalavu is 54.60 k[m.sup.2] with a max. height of 283 meters. It consists of vulcanic rock and lime. This tall lime stone plateau, which is characterised by a vertical hole plan, is about 100 metres high in the north of the isle and is probably the result of a karst quarry (Ladd and Hoffmeister 1945).

A number of the work done under this scheme indicate that the Vanuabalavu group is indeed decreasing compared to the remainder of the Lau Ridge, so rapidly that the impact of ocean discharge associated with the recent rising water levels along the island's coasts is increasing (Nunn et al. 2002).

Due to the depressions, the coastlines formed in this group are much smaller than anticipated, as they are abundant around the other examined isles and the others in the Lau group. Proof of a higher than the present holistic coastline can only be seen in a few places in the Vanuabalavu group, the Qaranilaca area included.

All locations in the Vanuabalavu Group where coastlines are located are unusually protected in terms of shaftosion. All of them were found in high-sided bays at the edges of the lagoon, where the waves are less than 50 m. This indicates that the efficiency of coast ejection in destroying proof in this archipelago is much greater than elsewhere in the north.

It is unlikely that this has anything to do with the relatively slight erosion of the Vanuabalavu limestone (Nunn et al. 2002).

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