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Earth News Science

Researcher Says the Hawaiian Islands Are Dissolving 55

Posted by timothy
from the saliva-causes-stomach-cancer dept.
SternisheFan writes with a snippet from Science Recorder: "Reporting in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, researchers at Brigham Young University say that the Hawaiian Islands are slowly dissolving. Eventually, Oahu's Koolau and Waianae mountains will dwindle to little more than a flat, low-lying island like Midway. While erosion is certainly a guilty party, researchers contend that the mountains of Oahu are, in fact, dissolving from within. Researchers spent several months collecting samples of groundwater and stream water to determine which source removed more mineral material. They also put to use surface water estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey to calculate the quantity of mass that vanished from the island each year. Researchers point out that Oahu is actually rising in elevation at a slow but steady rate due to plate tectonics. [BYU geologist Steve Nelson] and colleagues believe that Oahu will continue to grow for as long as 1.5 million years. Beyond that, the force of groundwater will eventually win and Oahu will begin its transformation to a flat, low-lying island like Midway." (If you have journal access, or don't mind forking over $40, you can read the original paper.)
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Researcher Says the Hawaiian Islands Are Dissolving

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  • Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @12:31PM (#42375489)
    This is how islands form and erode. This is some kind of surprise?
  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by houghi (78078) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @01:17PM (#42375729)

    While erosion is certainly a guilty party, researchers contend that the mountains of Oahu are, in fact, dissolving from within.

    Erosion is not the interesting part, From within is.

  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:35PM (#42376529) Homepage

    Seamount [wikipedia.org] style landmasses do not tend to get built up, unlike continental land masses (which still erode way more then they gain from the sea, just more slowly). The steep sides tend to deeply deposit any eroded materials. Once the island is below sea level the most of the most active erosion ends and the island slowly sinks back in to the lithosphere until the time it is finally drug back in to the earth in a subduction zone.

    The Hawaiian islands do get a lot of rainfall in most places each year, the nature of its porus volcanic soils is especially dissolvable to fresh water.

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