- 12 December 2002
- 19:22 UTC
Rangiroa, the largest of all the Tuamotu atolls — and the largest atoll to be found south of the Equator — is located in the northwest regions of the archipelago, 15 km southeast from Tikehau and 355 km northeast from Tahiti. It is one of several atolls in the northwest that form the Îles Palliser grouping.
Rangiroa has a total emergent landmass of 43 km² (~250 islets), making it the largest classic "lagoon and motu" atoll on earth — only the unusual, highly modified atolls such as Ouvéa (New Caledonia), Aldabra (Seychelles) and Kiritmati (Line Islands) have larger land areas. Its expansive lagoon measures 80 km in length and 32 km across at its widest, covering an area of 1,592 km² (second in size only to the atoll of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, when large, sunken atoll formations are excluded). The reef is cut by two main passages: Hutuaara and Hiria.
image: earth sciences and image analysis laboratory, nasa johnson space center