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National Natural Landmarks of American Samoa

June 25, 2012

National Natural Landmark (NNL) is a nationally significant natural area that has been designated by the Secretary of the Interior.  To be nationally significant, a site must be one of the best examples of a biotic community or geologic feature in its physiographic province.  Such examples include terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; geologic features, exposures, and landforms that record active geologic processes or portions of earths history; and fossil evidence of biological evolution.  The goal of the program is to identify, recognize, and encourage the protection of sites containing the biological remaining examples of ecological and geological components of the nation’s landscape.  Landmarks are designated on both public and private land, with the program designed to have the occurrence of the owner or administrator.  As of June 1990, 587 sites have been designated as National Natural Landmarks, and American Samoa is the home of seven of those five hundred and eighty-seven National Natural Landmarks. 

Those seven Landmarks and their significance are listed below: 

I.  Site:  Aunu’u Island, offshore from Tutuila Island, American Samoa  

Aunuu island from the sky

  Description:  Aunu’u Island, located off the northeast coast of Tutuila Island, is less than a square mile in area, about two-fifths of the island is a cultivated plain where the village of Aunu’u and its taro plantations are on.  Inland from the west sore the plain is backed by a recent geologically tuff cone.  The island is rimmed by a wide storm beach, composed of coral heads and coral sand.  Inside the storm beach, a yard or two lower, is a broad flat underlain by peaty soil, volcanic sand and gravel.  The originally swampy, inner flat has been drained for cultivation.  The coral heads flanking the ditches have been transported from the storm beach by the natives.  Coral patches thrive in the shallow water just outside the storm beach.  The highest part of the crater rim is 310 feet above sea level.  Within the crater is a small fresh water pond approximately at sea level.  The landmark area consists of 305 acres.

To be continued…

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