Hawaii Island Case Study

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Subject of study:
The subject of study is the formation of the Hawaiian archipelago. The island chain is comprised of a string of volcanic islands, seamounts of igneous rock of which the largest, Hawaii, reaches from its base on the ocean floor to rise above the ocean to rival the height of the tallest mountain, Mt. Everest.

The smaller and extinct volcanos of the Hawaiian chain are located at successively greater distances from the currently active volcano and younger, Kilauea on the largest and most southerly island, Hawaii. Also, a new volcano, Loihi, has formed off the southeastern coast of the island of Hawaii and Loihi appears to follow the trend of volcano formation in the chain – with the more recently formed volcanoes breaking through
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Thus, volcanoes can be found along tectonic plate boundaries. However, Hawaii is not located at tectonic plate boundaries, but in the north central part of the Pacific plate. As with all tectonic plates, the Pacific plate has a predominant direction of flow as it floats over the viscous mantle of the earth and is moving in a northwesterly direction at a rate of 7 to 11 centimeters …show more content…
However, the data indicate that the greater the distance from the most active volcano, Kilauea, the lower the elevation of the island. Particularly when comparing the data in Distance vs. Radioactive Age with Distance vs. Elevation, since age and distance correlate positively in Distance vs. Radioactive Age, the data can be interpreted as “the greater the age, the lower the elevation.” This supports the idea that as the Pacific plate moved along its northeasterly path, each older volcano became inactive and cooled as the hotspot and mantle plume were no longer feeding it, but rather, creating a new seamount in a new location as the plate presented new “real estate” above the

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