The Marquesas archipelago is considered the most remote collection of islands on earth, being the furthest away from any continent. It lies around 1300 km northeast of Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean, in the centre of the geologically active 'Rim of Fire.'

Like many other island groups in the Pacific, the Marquesas Islands passed over, and were created by, an oceanic hotspot. A hotspot is generally found beneath the ocean's crust, and is fed by convective heat rising through the Earth's mantle. This heat melts the magma, which gets forced out through fractures in the oceanic crust  and undersea volcanoes

It is thought that the islands and seamounts of the Marquesas were formed around 2.5-1.5 million years ago. They consist of two island groupings - North and South. Scientists have tracked the progress of the the islands over the hotspot, and have ascertained that the southeastern islands to are youngest. It's thought that the Marquesas hotspot plume could still active underwater.

Exposed to the forces of erosion the islands have been sculpted into dramatic landscapes with deep, narrow valleys separated by steep ridges that radiate from the eroded summits of the volcanos. The culture and identity of the Marquesans have been shaped by this unusual, and rather inhospitable, topography.