Recent ocean-bottom geophysical surveys, dredging, and dives, which complement surface data and scientific drilling at the Island of Hawaii, document that evolutionary stages during volcano growth are more diverse than previously described. Based on combining available composition, isotopic age, and geologically constrained volume data for each of the component volcanoes, this overview provides the first integrated models for overall growth of any Hawaiian island. In contrast to prior morphologic models for volcano evolution (preshield, shield, postshield), growth increasingly can be tracked by age and volume (magma supply), defining waxing alkalic, sustained tholeiitic, and waning alkalic stages. Data and estimates for individual volcanoes are used to model changing magma supply during successive compositional stages, to place limits on volcano life spans, and to interpret composite assembly of the island. Volcano volumes vary by an order of magnitude; peak magma supply also varies sizably among edifices but is challenging to quantify because of uncertainty about volcano life spans. Three alternative models are compared: (1) near-constant volcano propagation, (2) near-equal volcano durations, (3) high peak-tholeiite magma supply. These models define inconsistencies with prior geodynamic models, indicate that composite growth at Hawaii peaked ca. 800–400 ka, and demonstrate a lower current rate. Recent age determinations for Kilauea and Kohala define a volcano propagation rate of 8.6 cm/yr that yields plausible inception ages for other volcanoes of the Kea trend. In contrast, a similar propagation rate for the less-constrained Loa trend would require inception of Loihi Seamount in the future and ages that become implausibly large for the older volcanoes. An alternative rate of 10.6 cm/yr for Loa-trend volcanoes is reasonably consistent with ages and volcano spacing, but younger Loa volcanoes are offset from the Kea trend in age-distance plots. Variable magma flux at the Island of Hawaii, and longer-term growth of the Hawaiian chain as discrete islands rather than a continuous ridge, may record pulsed magma flow in the hotspot/plume source.
Additional publication details
Modeling volcano growth on the Island of Hawaii: deep-water perspectives