Previous work has found evidence for giant tsunami waves that impacted the coasts of Lanai, Molokai and other southern Hawaiian Islands, tentatively dated at 100 + and 200 + ka by U-series methods on uplifted coral clasts. Seafloor imaging and related work off Hawaii Island has suggested the Alika phase 2 debris avalanche as the source of the ~ 100 ka "giant wave deposits", although its precise age has been elusive. More recently, a basaltic sand bed in ODP site 842 (~ 300 km west of Hawaii) estimated at 100 ?? 20 ka has been suggested to correlate with this or another large Hawaiian landslide. Our approach to the timing and linkage of giant submarine landslides and paleo-tsunami deposits is a detailed stratigraphic survey of pelagic deposits proximal to the landslide feature, beginning with a suite of seven piston, gravity and box cores collected in the vicinity of the Alika 2 slide. We used U-series dating techniques, including excess 230Th and 210Pb profiling, high-resolution paleomagnetic stratigraphy, including continuous, U-channel analysis, δ18O stratigraphy, visual and X-ray sediment lithology, and the petrology and geochemistry of the included turbidites and ash layers. Minimum ages for the Alika phase 2a slide from detailed investigation of two of the cores are 112 ± 15 ka and 125 ± 24 ka (2σ) based on excess 230Th dating. A less precise age for the Alika phase 1 and/or South Kona slide is 242 ± 80 ka (2σ), consistent with previous geological estimates. Oxygen isotope analyses of entrained planktonic foraminifera better constrain the Alika phase 2a maximum age at 127 ± 5 ka, which corresponds to the beginning of the stage 5e interglacial period. It is proposed that triggering of these giant landslides may be related to climate change when wetter periods increase the possibility of groundwater intrusion and consequent phreatomagmatic eruptions of shallow magma chambers. Our study indicates the contemporaneity of the Alika giant submarine landslides and distal deposits from enormous turbidity currents as well as coral clasts reported to be tsunami deposits on Lanai and Molokai through direct dating and compositional analysis of the landslide deposits.
Additional publication details
Stratigraphic constraints on the timing and emplacement of the Alika 2 giant Hawaiian submarine landslide