Coral ages and island subsidence, Hilo drill hole

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
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A 25.8-m-thick sedimentary section containing coral fragments occurs directly below a surface lava flow (the -1340 year old Panaewa lava flow) at the Hilo drill hole. Ten coral samples from this section dated by accelerator mass spectrometry. (AMS) radiocarbon and five by thermal infrared multispectral scanner (TIMS) 23øTh/U methods show good agreement. The calcareous unit is 9790 years old at the bottom and 1690 years old at the top and was deposited in a shallow lagoon behind an actively growing reef. This sedimentary unit is underlain by a 34-m-thick lava flow which in turn overlies a thin volcaniclastic silt with coral fragments that yield a single •4C date of 10,340 years. The age-depth relations of the dated samples can be compared with proposed eustatic sea level curves after allowance for island subsidence is taken. Island subsidence averages 2.2 mm/yr for the last 47 years based on measurements from a tide gage near the drill hole or 2.5-2.6 mm/yr for the last 500,000 years based on the ages and depths of a series of drowned coral reefs offshore from west Hawaii. The age-depth measurements of coral fragments are more consistent with eustatic sea levels as determined by coral dating at Barbados and
Albrolhos Islands than those based on oxygen isotopic data from deep sea cores. The Panaewa lava flow entered a lagoon underlain by coral debris and covered the drill site with 30.9 m of lava of which 11 m was above sea level. This surface has now subsided to 4.2 m above sea level, but it demonstrates how a modern lava flow entering Hilo Bay would not only change the coastline but could extensively modify the offshore shelf.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Coral ages and island subsidence, Hilo drill hole
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Volume 101
Issue 5
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 7 p.
First page 11599
Last page 11605