Islands—as well as entire continents—are reputed to have disappeared in many parts of the world. Yet there is little information on this subject concerning its largest ocean, the Pacific. Over the years, geologists have amassed data that point to the undeniable fact of islands having disappeared in the Pacific, a phenomenon that the oral traditions of many groups of Pacific Islanders also highlight. There are even a few instances where fragments of Pacific continents have disappeared, becoming hidden from view rather than being submerged. In this scientifically rigorous yet readily comprehensible account of the fascinating subject of vanished islands and hidden continents in the Pacific, the author ranges far and wide, from explanations of the region’s ancient history to the meanings of island myths. Using both original and up-to-date information, he shows that there is real value in bringing together myths and the geological understanding of land movements.
A description of the Pacific Basin and the "ups and downs" of the land within its vast ocean is followed by chapters explaining how—long before humans arrived in this part of the world—islands and continents that no longer exist were once present. A succinct account is given of human settlement of the region and the establishment of cultural contexts for the observation of occasional catastrophic earth-surface changes and their encryption in folklore. The author also addresses the persistent myths of a "sunken continent" in the Pacific, which became widespread after European arrival and were subsequently incorporated into new age and pseudoscience explanations of our planet and its inhabitants. Finally, he presents original data and research on island disappearances witnessed by humans, recorded in oral and written traditions, and judged by geoscience to be authentic. Examples are drawn from throughout the Pacific, showing that not only have islands collapsed, and even vanished, within the past few hundred years, but that they are also liable to do so in the future.