The giant submarine alika debris slide, Mauna Loa, Hawaii

Journal of Geophysical Research
By: , and 



A 4000‐km2 area of submarine slump and slide deposits along the west flank of Mauna Loa volcano has been mapped with GLORIA side‐scan sonar images, seismic reflection profiles, and new bathymetry. The youngest deposits are two debris avalanche lobes that travelled from their breakaway area near the present shoreline as much as 100 km into the Hawaiian Deep at water depths of 4800 m. The two lobes partly overlap and together are designated the Alika slide. They were derived from the same source area and probably formed in rapid succession. Distinction hummocky topography, marginal levees, and other features on lower slopes (0.3°–0.6°) of these deposits resemble subaerial volcanic debris avalanche deposits such as 1980 Mount St. Helens and suggest high emplacement velocities. The breakaway area for the Alika slide (10°–15° slopes) is characterized by large block slumps, bounded by normal faults, that probably represent multiple subsidence events before, during, and after the debris avalanches. Lower slopes of the slide contain distinctive lobate‐terraced deposits that are interpreted as having been emplaced more slowly, prior to the debris avalanches. Estimated thicknesses of 50–200 m suggest volumes of 200–600 km3 for the two lobes. The combined volume of the entire slide and slump terrane is probably 1500–2000 km3. The slide deposits predate a 13‐ka coral reef and probably postdate the block‐faulted Ninole Basalt, roughly dated as a few hundred thousand years old. The Alika slide, or a similar deposit recognized on GLORIA images further north along the Hawaiian Ridge, probably triggered a giant wave that washed 325 m high on Lanai at about 100 ka. Slumping on Mauna Loa has been most intense adjacent to the large arcuate bend in its southwest rift zone, as the rift zone migrated westward away from the growing Kilauea volcano. Slumping events were probably triggered by seismic activity accompanying dike injection along the rift zone. Such massive slumps, landslides, and distal submarine turbidity flows appear to be widespread on the flanks of Hawaiian volcanoes.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The giant submarine alika debris slide, Mauna Loa, Hawaii
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research
DOI 10.1029/JB093iB05p04279
Volume 93
Issue B5
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 4279
Last page 4299