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Sea-Floor Sunday #60: Hawaiian Archipelago

February 7, 2010

This installment of Sea-Floor Sunday highlights a place I’ve never been. But, that’s about to change — my wife and I are headed to Hawai’i next week for an actual vacation. I can’t even remember when I’ve had one of those! The images below are from this beautiful bathymetric map from the U.S. Geological Survey, which can be found here (or by clicking on images below).

This is some serious relief — nearly 10,000 m (32,000 ft) from the highest peak on the Big Island to the deep sea floor off to the southeast. As a result of that relief, immense submarine landslide/slump deposits make up much of the flanks of these islands.

For the first part of our trip we are going to spend a few days on the Big Island touring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

For the remainder of the vacation we will be relaxing on Kaua’i, which is one of the oldest volcanic peaks currently emergent (note that “old” here is ~5 million years). I’m pretty excited to do some hiking up in beautiful Waimea Canyon.

We already have the Roadside Geology of Hawaii book, but if anybody has any other tips for geo-attractions on the Big Island and/or Kaua’i feel free to leave in comments.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2010 11:34 am

    Have a great vacation. Both islands are awesome, in very different ways. I can’t wait to hear about what you see there.

  2. Mihaela permalink
    February 7, 2010 1:45 pm

    A couple of our favorites while in Kauai: snorkeling at one of the beaches in the Haena State Park (parking lot at the end of Hwy 560, walking distance to the beach), and hiking the Mount Wai’ale’ale to the wettest spot on earth (make sure you have footgear that can withstand muddy conditions). Have fun!

  3. Cannibal Panda permalink
    February 7, 2010 2:10 pm

    The first thing I want to do when I eventually am able to get over to Hawaii is to see the olivine sand beach. It’s a bit of a trek, and apparently quite rugged, but I think the end result would be well worth it!

    Here is a link to directions in case you were interested:

  4. February 7, 2010 4:43 pm

    While you’re on Hawaii itself, check the HVO for lava updates. If you get lucky it might not be too hard to see a flow. I went 5 or so years ago, and used “”Hawaii: the Big Island Revealed” for a guidebook. It has directions to a few out of the way lava tubes that I didn’t get to, but sound worthwhile. Don’t be disappointed if you can never see more than 10′ in front of you on Kauai: it can get a little rainy there.

  5. February 7, 2010 8:53 pm

    cool, thanks for the tips on guidebooks

  6. February 7, 2010 10:15 pm

    When at Waimea Canyon, try to hit the NaPali cliffs overlook earliest in the day before the clouds take over. Keep an eye out for the native honeycreepers while you are hiking. Pics and ideas from our trip last summer at Have a great time, I am very jealous!

  7. February 8, 2010 2:15 am

    There are some fabulous Lherzolite xenoliths in some of the basalts near the resorts on the south side of Kauai. Try 21 o 52’56″N, 159 o 27’28″W, seaward from the Marriot (this is from memory/ google earth lookup, so may not be spot on).

  8. RalphM permalink
    February 8, 2010 3:23 pm

    There’s a nice easy walk along the south end of Kaua’i over some lithified sandstone cliffs. Might be interesting for a clastics guy. Some interesting filled fractures as well. I think the trailhead is near Shipwreck beach by the Hyatt.
    Make sure you get some coconut shrimp during your stay!

  9. February 8, 2010 8:14 pm

    If you are cheap, stay at Arnotts Hostel in Hilo, $25 per night for a bunk, and you are likely to have the entire dorm to your self this time of year, $60 for a room. I met the most interesting people there in January last year (a Turtle Biologist, Astronomers, Geology Students from New Hampshire, a French travel guide writer, director of the Swiss Olympic house).
    In Hilo, for $135 you can rent a 4wd pickup and drive to the observatory, but beware that 4000m is a bit high, and you’ll likely suffer headaches from altitude sickness. But it is interesting to see skiers on Hawaii. The view to Maui is spectacular, you could reach out and touch it… The Kilauea steam plume, it is a vapor of HCl, don’t want to breath that.
    Be sure to visit lava trees park in Puna. A lava flow through a forest formed casings around the trees, the lava flow ceased, and the still liquid lava flowed away. What remains are sort of hollow chimney. And there is a very large and deep crack in the surface here. I’m not sure, but it may be part of “The great crack” which if opened, is expected to result in catastrophic destructive mix of sea water and a magma chamber.
    And don’t forget, the water is nice and warm in Hawaii, however most all of Hawaii is exposed rough open Pacific Ocean water, and for this reason, Hawaii remains “the drowning capital of the world”.
    That being said, on the east side of Hilo, there are some parks that have rather semi protected water, where you can swim with turtles, and all the reef stuff too.

    Be sure to check out the kava bar in Hilo. Drink the muddy water, and take a look into the abyss (warning: this can lead to rather startling dreams). I prefer kava with coconut juice.

    The farmers market on Wednesdays and Sundays in Hilo is a hoot too. There are two “Hawaiian Homelands” (native) farmers market in Puna on Sundays. Puna is a bit different, reputed as the highest concentration of persons in the witness protection program.
    Puna, is also the place where you can see some very good facsimiles of summer of love hippies. There are some way out dietary fads there too. Try to sit in on a lecture, it can be a very Jim Jones kind of experience. The speech writing comes straight off of the big bottle of Dr Bonners magic soap.

  10. February 11, 2010 8:21 am

    If Pu’u O’o is erupting, take a helicopter trip!

  11. March 2, 2010 5:05 pm

    If you need advice while you’re in Hawaii or find yourself on Oahu and want to meet, let me know.

  12. March 2, 2010 5:09 pm

    Brian … thanks, however I’ve already taken this trip. But next time for sure!

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