Black manganese-iron oxide crusts form on most exposed rock on the ocean floor. Such crusts are well developed on the steep lava slopes of the Hawaiian Ridge and have been sampled during dredging and submersible dives. The crusts also occur on fragments detached from bedrock by mass wasting, on submerged coral reefs, and on poorly lithified sedimentary rocks. The thickness of the crusts was measured on samples collected since 1965 on the Hawaiian Ridge from 140 dive or dredge localities. Fifty-nine (42%) of the sites were collected in 2001 by remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). The thinner crusts on many samples apparently result from post-depositional breakage, landsliding, and intermittent burial of outcrops by sediment. The maximum crust thickness was selected from each dredge or dive site to best represent crusts on the original rock surface at that site. The measurements show an irregular progressive thickening of the crusts toward the northwest-i.e., progressive thickening toward the older volcanic features with increasing distance from the Hawaiian hotspot. Comparison of the maximum crust thickness with radiometric ages of related subaerial features supports previous studies that indicate a crust-growth rate of about 2.5 mm/m.y. The thickness information not only allows a comparison of the relative exposure ages of two or more features offshore from different volcanoes, but also provides specific age estimates of volcanic and landslide deposits. The data indicate that some of the landslide blocks within the south Kona landslide are the oldest exposed rock on Mauna Loa, Kilauea, or Loihi volcanoes. Crusts on the floors of submarine canyons off Kohala and East Molokai volcanoes indicate that these canyons are no longer serving as channelways for downslope, sediment-laden currents. Mahukona volcano was approximately synchronous with Hilo Ridge, both being younger than Hana Ridge. The Nuuanu landslide is considerably older than the Wailau landslide. The Waianae landslide southwest of Oahu has yielded samples with the greatest manganese-iron oxide crusts (9.5 mm thick) and therefore apparently represents the oldest submarine material yet found in the study area. The submarine volcanic field 100 km southwest of Oahu is apparently younger than the Waianae landslide. ?? 2004 Geological Society of America.
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Hawaiian submarine manganese-iron oxide crusts - A dating tool?