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Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha Research Paper


Overview of the Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha belongs to a collection of islands that is located in the South Atlantic Ocean. The current population of the Island is approximately 310. The main settlement is made up of the Edinburg of the Seven Seas. The terrain of Tristan da Cunha is a rugged.

However, the northern side of the island contains a flat area. It is the location where the residents settle. Further, the main religion in the settlement is Christianity (RedOrbit.com 1). The religion comprises of the Anglican and Catholics. Also, the descendants of the population originated from Scotland, England.

The residents of the Island speak English. Also, it can be pointed out that the Island is a British territory. The British government claimed it in 1653. The Island is considered as part of Saint Helena (Christophersen 27). Tristan is located about 2100 kilometers from St Helena. St Helena is located on the northern side of Tristan. Since the island falls under the British territory, it uses the same leadership style as Britain.

Thus, the island uses the Monarchy system just like the British government. In this system, exclusive powers are bestowed in the Queen. In addition, the Island is managed by a governor. The governor is based in St Helena and it created the need to have a channel of communication with the residents of the Island (Encyclopedia Britannica 1). This resulted in the selection of an administrator. Each of the five islands has an administrator. Finally, the Island trades in Sterling Pounds.

Location of the island

The islands that neighbor Tristan are Stoltenhoff Island with an area of 0.1 square kilometers, Middle Island with an area of 0.1 square kilometers, Nightingale Island with an area of 3.4 square kilometers, and Inaccessible Island with an area of 14 square kilometers. Out of the five islands in that group, Tristan da Cunha is the largest and it covers an area of 113 square kilometers. In most cases, Gough is not considered as part of the chain of island because it is located several kilometers away from the group (Encyclopedia Britannica 1).

The location of Tristan da Cunha is almost equidistant from Cape Town (South Africa) in the continent of Africa, and Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) and Buenos Aires, Argentina in the continent of South America (Strahler 29). The Island is approximately 1,800 miles from South Africa and approximately 2,150 miles from Brazil. Further, the Tristan island is circular in shape with a diameter of 10 kilometers. Further, it has a coastline that is about 21 miles long (Bharatdwaj 28).

Latitude and longitude

The location of the Tristan da Cunha is roughly 37o15’ South and 12o30’ West.

Weather patterns

The climate of Tristan Island ranges between marine cool and temperate. Further, it can be observed that the island experiences a slight variation in temperature especially between day and night temperatures. Also, the Island also experiences a small variation in temperature between summer and winter seasons.

The average high annual temperature is approximately 63oF and the annual recorded high temperature is about 75.9oF. On the other hand, average low annual temperature is approximately 55oF and the annual recorded low temperature is about 40.3oF. Therefore, it can be observed that the temperature is favorable (Encyclopedia Britannica 1). The rainfall received on the Island ranges between reasonable and substantial rainfall. The annual rainfall received on the Island is approximately 1681mm.

Also, the average rainy days in a year are approximately 252 days. The rainy days can be likened to the Aleutian Islands. Further, the Island receives a restricted amount of sunshine. The average number of sunshine hours in a year is approximately 1498 hours. This can be compared to the Juneau, Alaska. Finally, the combination of rainfall and temperature yield a humidity that is approximately 78.3%. The island is quite humid (National Geographic Society 1).

Effects of the weather on the islands flora and fauna, biogeographic processes and vegetation

The climate described above has a significant impact on the flora and fauna on the island. The weather is favorable and thus prevalent species of flora and fauna are found on the island.

The island has a substantial plant cover. The Tristan da Cunha is mainly covered with the moss and fern species. The vegetation cover on the Island is made up of a number of widespread species (Irene Schaffer’s Website 1). These species had a wide distribution and they have also been found in other regions such as the southern areas of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Also, there are a number of species that were first discovered in Tristan da Cunha. Some of these species have recently been discovered in certain part of the world such as New Zealand. An example of such specie is the Nertera depressa. Further, the residents rely on potatoes as their key produce. It can be noted that the plant cover on the island can only flourish in humid areas (Encyclopedia Britannica 1).

Studies show that Tristan island has a of wildlife. Specifically, the Island has a variety of species of birds. The most common specie is the seabirds. Tristan da Cunha has a variety of seabirds.

These varieties are about sixteen. The species of the seabirds include , , , , , , , , , , , , and ” (RedOrbit.com 1).

The other species are local and terrestrial birds. Besides, the island is the only discovered breeding location for Atlantic Petrel. Tristan has a number of species of whales and dolphins. Thus, it can be drawn that the weather permits only certain species of flora and fauna to flourish on the island.

Some of these species of birds have only been discovered in Tristan. The neighboring islands of Gough and Inaccessible “constitute a wildlife reserve, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1955” (Encyclopedia Britannica 1). The residents of the island rely on angling of crawfish. Research shows that angling is the main economic activity in the region. Finally, no indigenous species of certain class of animals such as reptiles and freshwater fish exist on Tristan (National Geographic Society 1).

Ocean circulations and processes

The warming sea temperatures have resulted in changes in the oceanic circulations. Temperature and humidity observed in Tristan are a representation of the open sea while the wind and rainfall are determined by the topography of the island. Studies show that the meridional movement type is observed on the island. Also, the island experiences west-east movement (Christophersen 89).

The volcanic activities in the island Tristan da Cunha and the entire Mid – Atlantic Ridge played a significant role in the cracking of the borders of South Atlantic Ocean (National Geographic Society 1). The activities led to the creation of the classical plume theory. The volcanic activities gave rise to the Walvis Ridge and Rio Grande Rise.

The Walvis Ridge moved towards the northeast to the African border from the island of Tristan. On the other hand, the Rio Grande Rise moved towards approximately southeast from the border of South America to the Mid – Atlantic Ridge. Walvis Ridge and Rio Grande Rise began forming from the center of the volcanic activities that occurred in the Mid – Atlantic Ridge (Encyclopedia Britannica 1).

The Walvis Ridge formed after the Rio Grande Rise. In fact, it was considered as an extension of the Rio Grande Rise. Since the volcanic activities diminished, the construction of the Walvis Ridge stalled thus making it smaller than the Rio Grande Rise (Raina 139). The classical plume theory has attracted a number of research studies. Specifically, researchers are interested in determining the role played by Tristan da Cunha Island in the creation of the fissure (National Geographic Society 1).

Volcanic processes

Tristan Island is described as a volcanic island. This can be attributed to the knowledge that the island is located on the Mid- Atlantic Ridge. The Ridge was formed as a result of volcanic activities. Tristan experienced the last active volcanic explosion in 1961. The eruption resulted in the creation of a volcanic cone known as Queen Mary’s Peak.

The peak is approximately 2060 meters tall. This eruption was massive and it led to the removal of the inhabitants from Tristan. The volcanic activities have resulted in a rugged terrain. Thus, Tristan is moderately hilly (National Geographic Society 1).

Works Cited

Bharatdwaj, Sanjay. Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciations, New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House, 2009. Print.

Christophersen, Erling. “Tristan da Cunha the Lonely Isle”. Geographical Review. 31.4 (1941): 697. Print.

Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2013, . Web.

Irene Schaffer’s Website 2008, . Web.

National Geographic Society 2013, . Web.

Raina Nater. Contemporary Physical Geography, New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 2012. Print.

RedOrbit.com 2013, Geography of Tristan da Cunha. Web.

Strahler Alan. Introducing Physical Geography, New York: Wiley & Sons, 2013. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 11). Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/physical-geography-of-tristan-da-cunha/

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"Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha." IvyPanda, 11 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/physical-geography-of-tristan-da-cunha/.

1. IvyPanda. "Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha." May 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/physical-geography-of-tristan-da-cunha/.


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IvyPanda. "Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha." May 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/physical-geography-of-tristan-da-cunha/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha." May 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/physical-geography-of-tristan-da-cunha/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Physical Geography of Tristan da Cunha'. 11 May.

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