Hawaiian Islands dissolving from within, study says

By on Dec 25, 2012 in Environment, North America, Science Comments

The Hawaiian Islands are dissolving from within, with Koolau and Waianae mountains in Oahu, which is also known as ‘The Gathering Place,’ now being predicted by a group of geologist to be reduced into a flat and low-lying island. The study involved calculating the quantity of mass that vanished from Oahu every year.

Oahu Hawaiian Islands

A part of Oahu, Hawaiian Islands
Image Credit: Brigham Young University

According to post at the official news site of Brigham Young University, a private university owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Provo, Utah, a team of their geologists made a study on the Hawaiian Islands and was assisted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“We tried to figure out how fast the island is going away and what the influence of climate is on that rate. More material is dissolving from those islands than what is being carried off through erosion.” Brigham Young University geologist Steve Nelson, co-author of the study, was quoted at News.BYU.edu.com.

“All of the Hawaiian Islands are made of just one kind of rock. The weathering rates are variable, too, because rainfall is so variable, so it’s a great natural laboratory.” Nelson added, whose BYU geologist team spent two months in taking samples from both mountains to find out why the said islands are dissolving.

To accomplish this, BYU geologists analyzed the ground surface water and stream water from the Hawaiian Islands. The theory is that the force of the ground water will eventually rise and Oahu, which is being pushed north-west, will then gradually start to become a flat island.

The study, which is also published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, also noted that the effect of “Hawaiian Islands dissolving” was estimated to continue to as long as 1.5 million years.



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