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World Heritage Site

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Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island is the only place on earth where rocks from the earth's mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level. This makes it an important focus of geological study.

The island lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between Australia and Antarctica. Fauna found on the island include: Subantarctic Fur Seals, Antarctic Fur Seals, New Zealand Fur Seals and Southern Elephant Seals - over 80,000 individuals of this species. Royal Penguins breed only on this island; King Penguins, Southern Rockhopper Penguins and Gentoo penguins also breed here.

Map of Macquarie Island


  • Natural

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Site Info

Full name: Macquarie Island

Unesco ID: 629

Inscribed: 1997

Type: Natural

Criteria: 7   8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 1997 - Inscribed 
  • 1992 - Rejected Interesting geologically but not of Universal Significance. Possibility of a wider nomination possibly with NZ islands?


The site has 1 locations.

  • Macquarie Island


The site has 22 connections.



  • Endemic Bird Species: Macquarie Shag
  • Tectonic processes: Criterion (viii): ... The island is the exposed crest of the undersea Macquarie Ridge, raised to its present position where the Indo-Australian tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate. These unique exposures provide an exceptionally complete section of the structure and composition of both the oceanic crust and the upper mantle, and provide evidence of ‘sea-floor spreading’ and tectonic processes that have operated for hundreds of millions of years.
  • Penguins: King, Gentoo, Royal, Rockhopper
  • Peat: "Vast waterlogged areas on the coastal platform are heavily vegetated, forming a mire based on deep peat beds and known locally as "featherbed" from the sensation gained when walking over them. Old sea stacks testify to the continual uplifting of the island as they protrude through the peat beds, some of them now being several hundred metres from the existing coastline" (see link)  Link
  • Orchids: two endemic orchids - Nematoceras dienemum and Nematoceras sulcatum (wiki)
  • Seals: fur seal
  • Antarctic Floristic Kingdom
  • Tundra
  • Albatross breeding sites: Wandering, Black-browed, Grey-headed, Light-mantled


Human Activity


  • Miocene: The geological evolution of Macquarie Island began 10 million years ago and continues today with the island experiencing earthquakes and a rapid rate of uplift, all of which are related to active geological processes along the boundary between the two plates. Nom file


WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process


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