GEOCHEMICAL CLASSIFICATION AND OCCURRENCE OF DRIFT PUMICE IN NEW CALEDONIA
A total of 34 samples from 25 beaches were analyzed for geochemical composition. This low-K rhyolitic pumice is consistent with intermediate to felsic lavas from Tonga. Trace element data confirms a correlation with basaltic lavas from the Lau Basin, possibly as a continuing fractionation series.
Exotic drift pumice has potential as a visual marker of sediment transport in and around the New Caledonian lagoon since it is somewhat durable, highly transportable in water, and easy to collect, transport, and analyze. Since the permanence of pumice in the depositional environment has not been fully discussed in the literature, this study will analyze and describe the effects of beach characteristics on pumice appearance and abundance. For example, there are loose correlations between sandy (gravelly) beaches and abundant (rare) pumice; and while pumice distribution is not related to N-S or E-W location around the island, there is some correlation to reef proximity. This information could help identify particularly at-risk coastal areas exhibiting elevated fluvial (i.e. mine waste) input in conjunction with reduced marine influence.