With Valentine’s Day in mind, we bring you this Copernicus Sentinel-2 image which captures the beauty of the little heart-shaped island of Moorea in the South Pacific. Moorea is actually the second largest island in the Society Archipelago, about 20 km northwest of Tahiti. Moorea is part of a chain of islands formed by hot-spot volcanism. This means that volcanoes are created by ‘fixed’ hot areas in Earth’s mantle. Because of plate tectonics, the plate gradually moves away from over the hotspot, carrying a volcano with it while a new volcanoes form in a chain above the hot spot.
This process means that these kinds of islands are constantly changing – but, of course, not at the same rate as changes resulting from global warming and the marks that human activity is leaving on the natural landscape. Moorea is a high island, rugged and mountainous with fertile soils. The image has not only been processed in red for Valentine’s Day, but red is used to highlight its plant life. Moorea’s lush vegetation is one of the qualities that gives the island its beautiful tropical appearance. However, the island’s vegetation has changed dramatically as human inhabitants shaped it for their uses. The island is surrounded by coral reef, which can be seen in turquoise. Coral reefs are among the most fragile ecosystems in the world, threatened by fishing and pollution, and rising temperatures.