Matthew Island is located at the south-eastern tip of the Quaternary volcanic chain of the New Hebrides island arc. The island is situated halfway from an intraoceanic collision zone (Loyalty Islands Ridge vs.
New Hebrides arc) and an active expanding ridge (North Fiji Basin Ridge).
Matthew island is built up by two distinct prominences (East-Matthew and West-Matthew) separated by an isthmus.
East Matthew is a half-destroyed composite volcanic cone, composed of
at least 3 superimposed lava flows, with columnar jointing. Only East-Matthew existed when Captain Thomas Gilbert discovered the island in 1788.
West Matthew is a roughly circular volcano composed almost completely from lava flows. Its central crater is occupied by a 20 m thick, NW-trending aa-flow. West Matthew formed in the late 1940's, after a highly seismically active period.
The 177-m-high western cone contains a crater that is breached to the NW and is filled by a lava flow whose terminous forms the NW coast.
Matthew Island is part of the Republic of Vanuatu. It was part of the New Hebrides Condominium and was not given away at Independence. The people of Aneityum Island consider it part of their custom ownership. Captain Gilbert on board the "Charlotte" discovered Matthew Island on 27th May 1788, and named it after the owner of his ship.
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