Easter Island Mystery

Long before the Europeans arrived on Easter Island in 1722, the native Polynesian culture known as Rapa Nui showed signs of demographic decline. However, the catalyst has long been debated in the scientific community. Was environmental degradation the cause, or could a political revolution or an epidemic of disease be to blame?

- Read the full story by Julie Cohen in the latest edition of The UCSB Current: 


Oliver Chadwick, a professor in UCSB's Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Program, takes soil samples from one of three study sites on Easter Island.
This rainfall map of Easter Island also shows the three main study areas (pink squares) as well field weather stations (purple dots) and the weather station at Mataveri Airport (red dot).
Monolithic human figures called moai were carved from rock between 1250 and 1500 by the inhabitants of Easter Island, which lies more than two thousand of miles off the coast of Chile.