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Earth Science

Hawaii's Oahu Used To Be a Bigger Island 44

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The two volcanoes long thought to have formed the Hawaiian island of Oahu had a head start: They grew on top of an older volcano that's now submerged northwest of the island and partially covered by it, new research suggests. Tests indicate that the long-lost peak—now dubbed Kaena volcano—grew from the sea floor and broke through the ocean's surface about 3.5 million years ago, eventually reaching a height of about 1000 meters above sea level before it began sinking back into the sea. At its largest, ancient Oahu would have measured about 1900 square kilometers (about 20% larger than modern-day Oahu) or larger. Over the course of its lifetime, Kaena volcano spilled between 20,000 and 27,000 cubic kilometers of molten rock, the researchers estimate. When Kaena volcano became largely extinct isn't clear."
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Hawaii's Oahu Used To Be a Bigger Island

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  • "New" volcanos? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @02:35PM (#47083799)

    So in exactly what sense are these "new" volcanoes not just new vents in the old volcano? Seems to me if they weren't using the old magma channels they wouldn't have opened near the top of an existing volcano - instead they would have opened someplace around the base (underwater) instead. Perhaps more to the point - in exactly what sense is an old volcano which is still spewing lava from it's slopes extinct?

    As I understand it it's not exactly uncommon for a volcano to go dormant for a while and then sprout new calderas on it's slopes when it gets active again, particularly if a magma "cork" formed in the old caldera, or the old magma channels collapsed while it was dormant. Seems to me the actual summary should be something along the lines of "what was long thought to be two volcanoes forming Oahu has been discovered to actually be a pair of relatively recent new calderas on a single older, larger volcano."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2014 @02:43PM (#47083847)

    Of course it used to be larger. Hawaii is growing, all the rest of the islands are shrinking (because they are no longer growing).

    I knew a marine geologist in Honolulu when I lived out there who was trying to predict the size of the tsunami that would result the next time a huge chunk of Oahu breaks off and falls into the sea. Apparently some pretty large chunks have fallen off in the past.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @02:59PM (#47083947)

    Hawaii is growing, all the rest of the islands are shrinking.

    Lo'ihi [] is also growing. Although, technically, it isn't an island (yet).

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal