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Hawaii’s Hot Story: New Underwater Volcano

Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa recently announced the discovery of a new underwater volcano. Oahu, the third largest Hawaiian island, is actually composed of three large Hawaiian “shield volcanoes.” Until recently, scientists believed it consisted of only two volcanoes.

Oahu is largely the remnant of a pair of volcanoes named Waianae and Ko’olau. Extending almost 100 kilometers from the western tip of the island of Oahu is an area of shallow bathymetry (or underwater topography) called Ka’ena Ridge.

underwater volcano

Hawaiian volcano / Image: Wikipedia

The investigative team designated this area as “a precursor volcano to the island of Oahu.” The Waianae Volcano was previously thought to have been exceptionally large and simply came to be an unusual distance from the ancient Kaua’i Volcano. The UH team discovered this was not true.

Lead Study Author and Emeritus Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology John Sinton stated: “Both of these assumptions can now be revised: Waianae is not as large as previously thought and Ka’ena Volcano formed in the region between Kaua’i and Waianae.”

A study in 2010 revealed an odd chemistry of strange lavas of Waianae Volcano that drew their attention and warranted further study sometime in the near future. Sinton noted: “We previously knew that they formed by partial melting of the crust beneath Waianae but we didn’t understand why they have the isotopic composition that they do. Now, we realize that the deep crust that melted under Waianae is actually part of the earlier Ka’ena Volcano.”

After analyzing data logged by the research vessel Kilo Moana it was determined that the Ka’ena Ridge had an unusual form or shape that was unlike that of other area extensions of volcanoes on land. The research team collected numerous samples from both the Ka’ena and Wai’alu Ridges. Thus they discovered that Ka’ena was indeed separate from Waianae but was in reality a third, separate underwater volcano.

Sinton noted: “What is particularly interesting is that Ka’ena appears to have had an unusually prolonged history as a submarine volcano, only breaching the ocean surface very late in its history.” He concluded that there is a lot more left to be learned this new underwater volcano.

Jack S. Chesney, a former Penn State penman and commentator was not too surprised by this new underwater volcano. He told American Live Wire: “I was born there. I have studied my birth place and followed the research. This new underwater volcano logically just had to be there but when it comes to science you simply can’t say too much too soon without consequences.”

Hawaii’s Hot Story: New Underwater Volcano

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.