We can all too easily forget how a place comes into being. Rapa Nui is a child born out of the fiery belly of the earth itself.
|The birth of Rano Raraku|
In the fantastic time-scale of planetary evolution, all volcanic islands are likely to be transitory. The birth and growth of Rapa Nui might have been spectacularly rapid; its decline through the long process of erosion being so slow as to be virtually imperceptible9.
The first eruption forming the first land of Rapa Nui might have left in its wake a raised cone of land with a bowl-shaped depression, the crater, at the top of the conduit. Later, other eruptions would have formed small cones and two other larger craters. Finally the three main volcanoes and the many smaller cones would have created a complete landmass of 69 miles square.
Gradually, after all the volcanic activity had ceased, rain would have filled the remaining craters.
The island of Rapa Nui was born.
The first Polynesians to land on the island brought with them xxxx, though quite how sweet potatoes, an indigenous South American root, came to the island is still uncertain. It is possible that South American seafarers brought them or they were carried by the tides of the Pacific.
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