New map provides comprehensive look at Hawaii’s ever-changing geology
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Every eruption or earthquake experienced in Hawaii directly impacts the state’s landscape.
And the latest geologic map from the U.S. Geology Survey shows just how much Hawaii’s foundation has evolved over time.
The map was 15 years in the making and geologists like John Sinton helped digitize renderings stretching back years to offer a comprehensive picture.
“We’re not trying to evaluate changes on the decades-scale, but rather take the body of knowledge about the geology of the state and put it into a modern, easily accessible format for anybody to use ― land planners, scientists, whatever,” said Sinton, UH-Manoa emeritus professor of earth sciences.
The team of geologists, led by David R. Sherrod, used several tools to create the new map and what helps as a critical resource is having Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in our backyard.
“When it’s active, there’s nothing quite like it,” Sinton said. “It’s exciting, but it’s educational. You see things that you can’t get out of books and you can’t get out of lectures.”
National Park officials say the 2018 Puna eruption added 875 acres of new land and Sinton says it also revealed the vast interconnectivity of Hawaii’s volcanic systems.
“We’ve been trying to understand that for every geologist who has visited the islands for a few hundred years,” Sinton said. “That gave us primary data on how this system works.
“What’s going on in Puna is related to the collapse at the summit and even in the mid rift.”
While the latest geologic map shows Kilauea’s work, the scientific community is also watching Mauna Loa ― where eruption is a certainty, but the timeline is unknown.
“Mauna Loa is being monitored and we know that it’s inflated, quite swollen,” Sinton said.
“We know it has magma in the volcano. We don’t know when it will erupt next, but we know that magma is being fed to the volcano.”
The full map and all of its images are available by clicking here.
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