Fiji Volcanoes

Nabukelevu Volcano is located on the southwestern end of Kadavu Island. The summit, Mt. Washington, has an elevation of 805 meters (2,641 ft), and although Nabukelevu has not erupted in over 10,000 years, it still poses some geological complications in the Fijian archipelago. Three fault lines run through Nabukelevu, making the volcano prone to failure. Frequent earthquakes cause avalanches and landslides of debris and volcanic rock, which slide into the ocean, disrupting the underwater life.

A study of this debris, conducted by researchers from the Massey University in New Zealand and the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, revealed deposits of pottery and human remains. These geological findings corroborate a widespread local myth about how catastrophic events in Nabukelevu over the last 2,000 years destroyed an entire settlement on Mt. Washington. The earthquakes induced by the ill-placed fault lines, combined with cyclone activity in the region have a potential to cause a large-scale edifice failure, which would send large chunks of Nabukelevu Volcano into the ocean, causing a tsunami that could reach Suva, Fiji’s capital city, which is located 110 km (68 miles) north of Kadavu Island.

Taveuni, the third largest island in Fiji, is the top of a massive shield volcano whose base is on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. The volcano last erupted in 1658 AD, and the island is dotted with more than 150 craters. Abel Tasman, the European who first sighted Taveuni in 1643, actually mistook these craters for separate islands. Historically, Taveuni was comprised of warring villages whose chieftains divided the island into two distinct areas. Now, only a small part of the village of Somosomo is controlled by Chief Tui Cakau, who runs the area as a fiefdom. The villages of Somosomo and Naqara make up the urban area of Taveuni, the latter of which is settled by Indo-Fijians and is the island’s commercial center.

Known as the “Garden Island of Fiji,” Taveuni is a popular destination for tourists, especially those who wish to explore the unique flora of the area. It is also a stunning place to go diving, as much of Taveuni’s beauty is actually located under water. The Rainbow Reef, located on the western side of the island, is known as one of the world’s best soft coral dive areas; and Vuna Lagoon, on the southern side of the island, offers breathtaking views of the pelagic and schooling fish species that swim in the South Pacific.

Koro is another volcanic island worth visiting in Fiji. Made up of a chain of basaltic cinder cones that stretch from north to south, Koro’s summit peaks at 522 meters (1,713 ft). It has not had any volcanic eruptions in the last 10,000 years and currently has a population of 4,500 people who live in the 14 villages throughout the island. Koro is Fiji’s sixth largest island and is accessible via ferry from Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Travelers who wish to visit the island can catch a flight from Suva on Saturdays to the airport located on the eastern coast of Koro.