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A coral island is a type of island formed from coral detritus and associated organic material. They occur in tropical and sub-tropical areas, typically as part of coral reefs which have grown to cover a far larger area under the sea.
Islands develop from coral reefs through one of two processes, uplift and accretion.
In uplift, coral reefs are raised above sea level through movements in the oceanic crust.
In accretion, rocks and sand are layered on top of coral reefs during cyclonic storms, and the gradual accumulation of other solid material through the action of wind and waves leads to the development of the island. The process is later enhanced with the remains of plant life which grows on the island.
Most of the world's coral islands are in the Pacific Ocean. The American territories of Jarvis, Baker and Howland Islands are clear examples of coral islands. Also, some of the islands belonging to Kiribati are considered coral islands and majority of Tahiti
Many coral islands are small and not high above sea level, so are at threat from cyclones, storms and rising sea levels.
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