Note: The following is the formation of the Hawaiian Islands according to scientists, Hawaiians have their own creation story that I will share in my next post.
The Hawaiian archipelago began to form around 5 million years ago and today consists of 132 volcanic islands which stretch 1,600 miles across the pacific. They are the largest mass of mountains and the most remote island chain in the world. You are probably somewhat familiar with the 8 major islands, listed in order from northwest to southeast, also the order in which they were formed: Kaua’i, Ni’ihau, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui, Kaho’olawe and Hawai’i. Hawai’i or the Big Island, is the youngest island and the only one with current volcanic activity. There is a new island forming under water southeast of the Big Island named Lo’ihi. The last eruption on Maui was as recent as 1790. The Pacific Plate which makes up the ocean floor moves over a “hotspot.” Peridoically a volcano punches through the plate, forms an island, stops forming an island and then moves northwest with the other islands, like Hershey kisses on a conveyer belt.
Many parts of Hawaii are lush and tropical and it is hard to imagine that at one time they were just mounds of hardened lava. All seeds came by wind, sea or birds and before human contact the islands were primarily grasslands. That all changed when humans arrived on the scene circa 600 A.D. They brought with them coconuts, taro, bananas, chickens, pigs and dogs. Of course most things we associate with Hawaii, such as coconut trees, coffee, macadamia nuts and pineapples, are not native to the islands at all.
So there it is, a very short and brief natural history of the Hawaiian islands. I know that this blog post contains very deep and intellectual writing, but please, publishers do not clog my inbox with requests to publish my work. Aloha \m/
Basic Manual for Hawaii’s Tour Drivers and Guides. Professional Standards for Hawaii’s Tour Guides. Kapi’olani Community College, 2015.