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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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  • Oh Shit (Score:4, Funny)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @12:23PM (#42375449)

    Larry Ellison isn't going to like this...

  • Hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dishwasha (125561) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @12:27PM (#42375471)

    colleagues believe that Oahu will continue to grow for as long as 1.5 million years.

    So what you're saying is, we've got some time?

    • Think of the children's [times 1500] children's children's children's children!

      And yes, I tried to copy paste 1500 "children's", but apparently slashdot has some sort of "spam" protection... Who knew!

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        Think of the children's [times 1500] children's children's children's children!

        And yes, I tried to copy paste 1500 "children's", but apparently slashdot has some sort of "spam" protection... Who knew!

        Not spam, soylent green.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      and just think of the timescale after that for the shrinking.we're talking of timescale of Midway's wearing down which is couple tens of millions of years. the human race could go back to being like apes or some other kind of unintelligent animal in a tenth that time....

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      So what you're saying is, we've got some time?

      It's never too early to start thinking about building a big glass dome over the island, before it goes Atlantis. These big construction projects always take longer and cost more than estimated. Just look at Boston's Big Dig. 1.5 million years is about the norm for big government projects.

      Hey, wait and see if Las Vegas can top that! An underwater resort!

      If this had happened on December 7th, 1941, this really would have confused the Japanese.

      "Flight leader here. I see the ships. But there ain't no is

    • Thats not the real issue. Ive heard that in the next few years, Guam is likely to tip over and capsize!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    TL;DR 1.5 million years form now, Oahu will stop growing. Then it will start to shrink.

    Be afraid! Be very afraid!

  • 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?
    • This is how islands form and erode. This is some kind of surprise?

      That's what I was thinking.

      "And in other news, the sky is expected to remain blue and scientists predict that water will remain wet for the foreseeable future"

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anne_Nonymous (313852)

        >> the sky is expected to remain blue and scientists predict that water will remain wet

        Your misguided promotion of the radical scientific agenda won't fool Jesus.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I figured that islands erode from the ocean waves beating on them, not from groundwater dissolving the rock inside of it.

      • You figured half correctly, I suppose. Wave and tide action do erode land, in some places. They also tend to build up land in other places. The net result, I think, is a loss of land from sea water erosion. But, these researchers weren't interested in any of that, so it appears that they didn't include any of it.

        • 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.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            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.

            The rainiest spot on earth is on Kauai. Hawa`i receives so much rain because of the mountain heights. The mountains force the moisture-laden air up where it can't keep all that water. This is what causes the leeward side. As an example, the North Shore of O`ahu is wet, but Honolulu side doesn't even receive a quarter of the rain. Once the mountains sink, nothing will force the air to give up the moisture as rain.

    • 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.

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        What, like an underground network of rivers in a porous rock, also referred to as a cave?

        • by peragrin (659227)

          Or you know lava tubes formed when the volcanic island was formed.

          Also any one who has looked at the Hawaiian islands should note one fact the biggest islands are the most recently formed. The oldest islands are the smallest. The older they are the smaller they are.

  • >Beyond that, the force of groundwater will eventually win and Oahu will begin its transformation to a flat, low-lying island like Midway."

    What do you mean "begin?" Begun it has, already. /yoda.

    Oahu's eventual metamorphosis is to that of a seamount, like all the other seamounts that stretch along the ocean floor all the way to the Aleutians and Kamchatka.

    This is not news at all for Geologists, or anyone for that matter, who has seen a map of the ocean floor on Google Earth or the globe at the Boston Mu

    • The "new" part of this news is HOW the erosion will happen - from subsurface groundwater instead of just surface erosion.
      • by bmo (77928)

        But we already know that subsurface groundwater causes erosion.

        We've known for a long time. We have national parks dedicated to pretty examples of this. Insurance companies hate extreme examples of this like karst topographies, especially when a house falls in a sinkhole.

        Somehow someone thought that this didn't apply to islands and needed a study to find this out? How do I get a grant to do a similar study in another tropical paradise to prove the obvious?

        --
        BMO

  • Man, those birthers will do just about anything to show Obama wasn't born in the US. Did someone catch Donald Trump tossing shovels of sand into the ocean on the backside of the island?
  • Why does the summary keep referencing the flatness of Midway? I don't think many people are familiar with Pacific island topography.

  • what kind of island Midway is? Its mountainous right?
  • Everything will be gone, given enough time.

  • > (If you have journal access, or don't mind forking over $40, you can read the original paper.)

    You might ask why the journal is charging $40. Usually the journals - run by companies - have nothing to do with writing the original paper, contributing only academic review (possibly by unpaid volunteers) and publishing. They won't print the article unless the author signs a copyright transfer agreement which means they no longer own the copyright, and can't even put the paper on their own website. It's a
    • Just idle curiosity : Do Mormons believe in an 'young earth', and if so how can they have geologists?
  • by pbjones (315127)

    the time frame puts this out beyond my care factor. Don't worry, rising sea levels will flood the Island first.

  • "Eventually, Oahu's Koolau and Waianae mountains will dwindle to little more than a flat, low-lying island like Midway."
    Considering how Midway is the remnant of an island created by the same volcanic hotspot that created the Hawaiian island chain, that's not surprising.

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