Monday, December 14, 2009

The Hawaiian Hot-spot ~ New Lava Photography Book

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On site report: Visitors to the lava viewing area last night reported an increasingly stronger plume at Waikupanaha and also some pyroclastic explosions and molten lava flowing off the edge of the developing new bench of land.

The Hawaiian Hot-spot: {The following are condensed excerpts from my new Hawai'i Lava Photography book: Ho'ohanohano Pele (Honoring the volcano goddess Pele), published December 10, 2009:

[The Hawaiian Archipelago is a volcanic ridge of islands and atolls 1,600 miles long. When we include the underwater portion of this contiguous line of ridges it is then named the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain and its length becomes nearly 3,600 miles, and many millions of years in the making.
I am writing this post from the very spot that every island and atoll along this tectonically created chain was formed and where it continues to be created - the Island of Hawai'i.

The “Hawaiian hot-spot”, is one of the most fascinating geological phenomenons in the world.

The Hawaiian Hotspot is a weak section within the Earths mantle that allows magma to plume, or slice the Earth’s crust. The islands of Hawai'i are riding atop the Pacific Plate: the oceanic tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Plate is the seafloor and in Hawai'i it is constantly moving in a northwesterly direction at an average of 49 miles per million years (about 3 or 4 inches per year). As the Pacific Plate slides over the hotspot, a continual slicing and pluming of inner molten earth moves up into, and through, the Pacific Plate itself. This nearly continuous pluming of magma slowly creates underwater volcanoes that can eventually reach the ocean’s surface at 19,000 feet above the seafloor - just as the Big Island has. In this way, volcanic landmass after landmass is formed - creating this chain of islands, atolls and seamounts.

From the perspective of humans and linear time, this birthing of islands is a very long and drawn out process. The Hawaiian hot spot has been building islands, atolls and seamounts for about 80 million years. The spectacularly sculptured-by-time Na Pali Coast Mountains of Kauai, our eldest island neighbor situated 250 miles to the northwest, were formed on this very hot spot about 5 million years ago.]

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