Exploring Easter Island rst-hand, we quicklybecame convinced that the standard explanationor the remarkable indigenous civilization on theisland does not necessarily hold up under detailedexamination. Here we outline just a ew o theopen questions we have, based on our originalresearch, which we will address urther in a ull-fedged research expedition.
1) The chronology and dating of the moai.
The standard story o Easter Island does not detailthe relative dating o the various moai, and in actrelegates all o these statues to a airly late timeperiod, on the order o approximately a thousandto 1500 years ago at the most.Studying the moai with a geological eye, Schochwas particularly impressed by the varying degreeso weathering and erosion seen on dierent moai,which could be telltale signs o major discrepanciesin their ages. The levels o sedimentation aroundcertain moai also impressed him. Some moai havebeen buried in up to an estimated six meters(20 eet) o sediment, or more, such that eventhough they are standing erect, only their chinsand heads are above the current ground level.Such high levels o sedimentation could occurquickly, or instance, i there were catastrophiclandslides or mudfows, but Schoch could not ndany such evidence (and landslides would tend toshit and knock over the tall statues). Rather, tohis eye, the sedimentation around certain moaisuggests a much more extreme antiquity thanmost conventional archaeologists and historiansbelieve to be the case.Not only does sedimentation around the statuessuggest a longer and dierent chronologythan conventionally accepted, but so too doweathering and erosion patterns, and stylisticconsiderations. Although on one level most o themoai are stylistically similar and even stereotypic,at another level each is unique and they could,Schoch believes, be categorized according tostylistic considerations. The moai should, inaddition, be sorted according to lithology (stonetype) as well as weathering and erosion levels(taking orientation and relative exposure to theelements into account). Another key to solvingthe problem will be to compare weathering,erosion, and sedimentation rates in historicaltimes. Schoch has begun to gather photographso various moai and landorms on Easter Islandtaken over the last 130 years so as to comparethem geologically to their conditions today, and inthis way attempt to get a quantitative handle onweathering, erosion, and sedimentation rates.