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St. Pierre Island

October 5, 2018. Life / Islands

What is an Island?

Nicholas D. Holmes, Olivier Langrand, Russell A. Mittermeier, Anthony B. Rylands, Thomas Brooks, Dena R. Spatz, James C. Russell, Wes Sechrest, Federico Mendez Sanchez

Islands have long inspired human imagination. They evoke images of far-flung landscapes and vast isolation. On a geologic timescale, islands are dynamic and ever-changing. New landmasses violently rise from the sea through volcanic action, while coral atolls are whittled away by the relentless wind and waves.

Islands are home to remarkable species occurring nowhere else on our planet, including the Lemurs of Madagascar, the Kiwis of New Zealand and the Rafflesia plants from Sumatra and Borneo, one of which has the largest flower in the world.

Put simply, an island is a body of land surrounded by water. Islands of all shapes and sizes are distributed in every ocean, with wide variation in elevation and climate resulting in diverse and spectacular floras and faunas.

Geologically, there are two broad categories. Oceanic islands such as the Hawaiian Islands and the Galapagos arose within the boundaries of tectonic plates and have no historical connection to continents, and continental islands such as New Guinea, Borneo, and Sri Lanka which were previously connected to continents.

Islands Geography1

 

This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Nature Series Book “Islands” (2018)