A new method has been discovered for calculating ages of the main shield building stages of volcanoes along the Hawaiian chain from Kilauea to the Hawaiian-Emperor bend. The method is based on a graphical technique for hypothetical subtraction of distance intervals that theoretically represent regions of simultaneous volcanism along adjacent or nearly en-echelon loci of volcanism. Distances along the chain, measured from Kilauea, when progressively foreshortened by the distances of hypothetical "collapse" and plotted versus existing age data are found to give linear age-distance relationships. A calibration graph is presented that agrees closely with the measured ages in 17 of the 20 existing dated volcanoes. The criterion for simultaneous activity on different loci is based on the concept of equal azimuths of synchronous volcanic propagation within coeval segments of the chain. This is the predicted relationship when magmatic fluids inject the lithosphere along directions normal to a nearly horizontal least principal stress. It appears that the Pacific plate has been subjected to oscillatory, but principally clockwise, rotations of horizontal stress components during the last 40 m.y. ?? 1975.