Hawaiian Volcanoes: Full of Wonder

North America | | November 18, 2010 at 1:50 am




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The Hawaiian Islands owe their existence to volcanic mountain eruptions. These mountain regions are the most splendid on the face of the earth. Hawaiian volcanoes stand at an impressive height of 4572 meters above sea level. Mauna Loa is the highest peak, which stretches for an additional 4170 meters.

Hawaiian volcanoes are shield volcanoes. Hawaiian volcanoes were created from the tons of molted lava, which extended for 3 meters. The volcanic cone is flat-domed, sloping, and broad. The Hawaiian Islands stretched from northwest to southeast. The initial volcanoes have become extinct. Some scientists are of the view that the archipelago, which is a group of islands, had its origins in the piles of basalt over a mammoth fissure. The activity shifts to the south. There is another hypothesis, which suggests that the Pacific plate is spreading over a ‘hotspot’, located in the mantle. Mauna Loa and Kilauea are two, active Hawaiian volcanoes that exist until today. They lie at the southeastern end of the island chain.

When volcanic mountains arrive at the surface, they become subjected to erosion effects. If the lava stops flowing, the entire mass could perish. During the early stages of erosion, a reef will attach itself to the shore. This was first observed at Waikiki Beach at Honolulu. The reef will subsequently detach itself from the shore. This forms a barrier reef. As time passes, there may be excess erosion and submergence. This may lead to the formation of an atoll. An atoll is a coral island in the shape of a ring. It eventually forms a lagoon. When the top of the mountain gets worn out, a shoal is left behind that cuts across the cone. This takes place at numerous fathoms below sea level. This is similar to the French Frigate Shoal.

A succession of earthquakes precedes the Hawaiian Volcanoes eruption. The earthquakes tear open fissures and they let the magma proceed to the surface. Lava fountains are also known as ‘curtains of fire’. These fountains throw wonderful streams of lava into the atmosphere from several points located on the fissure. The eruptions at Hawaiian volcanoes are quite peaceful because the lava is more fluid. In addition, the gases escape, and the lava does not convert to ash and cinders. Subsequently, mammoth floods of molten lava overflow from the sides of the mountain. Eruptions may last for several days or for months on end. Flank eruptions occur every two or three years.

Mauna Loa is regarded as the ‘monarch of mountains’. It is the largest volcano in the world. It is also the largest unitary mountain in the world, standing at an impressive height of 8742 meters.

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