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The islands of Vanuatu in the southwest Pacific Ocean are part of an island arc system extending south from the Solomon Islands west of the present-day North Fiji basin and east of the New Hebrides basin. The arc lies along the collision boundary of the Pacific tectonic plate and the Indo-Australian plate with the former subducting beneath the latter from the Cretaceous to the present.

The islands are thus volcanoes created along the eastern side of the Vanuatu trench. This trench follows the line of the subduction zone with Vanuatu located in the fore-arc setting east of the trench. Many of the volcanoes remain active.

Consequently Vanuatu is made up of young volcanic rocks and fringing reefs onshore, and oceanic crust offshore Globalshift considers them and their surrounding waters as having no oil and gas potential.

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