Non-destructive XRF Analyses of Fine-grained Basalts from Eiao, Marquesas Islands

  • Michel Charleux Laboratoire d’Ethno-archéologie préhistorique, UMR 7041, Paris, France.
  • Andrew McAlister
  • Peter R Mills
  • Steven P Lundblad
Keywords: Eiao, Polynesia, basalt tools, XRF, non-destructive analysis


The Marquesan island of Eiao was an important source of fine-grained basalt in Central East Polynesia, with examples being identified in archaeological assemblages throughout the region. However, compared to many other large-scale Polynesian basalt sources, little has been published about the physical extent and geochemical variability of tool-quality basalt on Eiao; prior to our study, only a single site with evidence of stone extraction had been identified and geochemi- cal information was limited to less than two dozen samples. In this paper we report geochemical data for 225 additional basalt specimens collected on Eiao. Our analyses were conducted non-destructively using three EDXRF instruments: one lab-based unit and two portable analysers. The majority of our sample, identified here as Group 1, possesses geochemical and physical characteristics similar to those reported in previous studies. Group 1 samples were collected from various locations on Eiao suggesting that, rather than being limited to a single quarry site, fine-grained basalt was extracted from multiple sources throughout the island. In addition, we identified a second group (Group 2), which possesses a distinct geochemistry, a coarser grain and often an unusual reddish colour. Evidence from Eiao indicates that Group 2 stone was regularly utilised and our analysis of an adze collected on Hiva Oa Island suggests that this material was distributed at least as far as the southern Marquesas.
How to Cite
Charleux, M., McAlister, A., Mills, P. and Lundblad, S. (2014) “Non-destructive XRF Analyses of Fine-grained Basalts from Eiao, Marquesas Islands”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 5(1), pp. 75-89. Available at: (Accessed: 23July2019).