| Native name: |
Mokupuni o Hawai‘i
The Windward Islands
|Location||North Pacific Ocean|
The Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian : Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Formerly the group was known to Europeans and Americans as the Sandwich Islands, a name that James Cook chose in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name, dating from the 1840s, is derived from the name of the largest island, Hawaiʻi Island.
Although Hawaii is a U.S. state, it is only part of the U.S. politically and not geographically connected to North America. The state of Hawaii occupies the archipelago almost in its entirety (including the mostly uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), with the sole exception of Midway Island, which instead separately belongs to the United States as one of its unincorporated territories within the United States Minor Outlying Islands.
The Hawaiian Islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle. The islands are about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from the nearest continent.
Captain James Cook visited the islands on January 18, 1778,and named them the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who as the First Lord of the Admiralty was one of his sponsors. This name was in use until the 1840s, when the local name "Hawaii" gradually began to take precedence.
The Hawaiian Islands have a total land area of 6,423.4 square miles (16,636.5 km2). Except for Midway, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States, these islands and islets are administered as Hawaii—the 50th state of the United States.
(as of 2010)
|Density||Highest point||Elevation||Age (Ma)||Location|
|Hawaiʻi||The Big Island||sq mi (10,432.5 km2)4,028.0||185,079||mi (17.7407/km2)45.948/sq||Mauna Kea||ft (4,205 m)13,796||0.4|
|Maui||The Valley Isle||sq mi (1,883.4 km2)727.2||144,444||mi (76.692/km2)198.630/sq||Haleakalā||ft (3,055 m)10,023||1.3–0.8|
|Oʻahu||The Gathering Place||sq mi (1,545.4 km2)596.7||953,207||mi (616.78/km2)1,597.46/sq||Mount Kaʻala||ft (1,220 m)4,003||3.7–2.6|
|Kauaʻi||The Garden Isle||sq mi (1,430.5 km2)552.3||66,921||mi (46.783/km2)121.168/sq||Kawaikini||ft (1,598 m)5,243||5.1|
|Molokaʻi||The Friendly Isle||sq mi (673.4 km2)260.0||7,345||mi (10.9074/km2)28.250/sq||Kamakou||ft (1,512 m)4,961||1.9–1.8|
|Lānaʻi||The Pineapple Isle||sq mi (363.9 km2)140.5||3,135||mi (8.615/km2)22.313/sq||Lānaʻihale||ft (1,026 m)3,366||1.3|
|Niʻihau||The Forbidden Isle||sq mi (180.0 km2)69.5||170||mi (0.944/km2)2.45/sq||Mount Pānīʻau||ft (381 m)1,250||4.9|
|Kahoʻolawe||The Target Isle||sq mi (115.5 km2)44.6||0||0/sq mi (0/km2)||Puʻu Moaulanui||ft (452 m)1,483||1.0|
The eight main islands of Hawaii (also called the Hawaiian Windward Islands) are listed here. All except Kahoolawe are inhabited.
Smaller islands, atolls, and reefs (all west of Niʻihau are uninhabited) form the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, or Hawaiian Leeward Islands:
The state of Hawaii counts 137 "islands" in the Hawaiian chain.This number includes all minor islands and islets (very small islands) offshore of the main islands (listed above) and individual islets in each atoll. These are just a few:
This chain of islands, or archipelago, developed as the Pacific Plate slowly moved northwestward over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle at a rate of approximately 32 miles (51 km) per million years. Thus, the southeast island is volcanically active, whereas the islands on the northwest end of the archipelago are older and typically smaller, due to longer exposure to erosion. The age of the archipelago has been estimated using potassium-argon dating methods. From this study and others, it is estimated that the northwesternmost island, Kure Atoll, is the oldest at approximately 28 million years (Ma); while the southeasternmost island, Hawaiʻi, is approximately 0.4 Ma (400,000 years). The only active volcanism in the last 200 years has been on the southeastern island, Hawaiʻi, and on the submerged but growing volcano to the extreme southeast, Loʻihi. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the USGS documents recent volcanic activity and provides images and interpretations of the volcanism. Kīlauea had been erupting nearly continuously since 1983 when it stopped August 2018.
Almost all of the magma of the hotspot has the composition of basalt, and so the Hawaiian volcanoes are composed almost entirely of this igneous rock. There is very little coarser-grained gabbro and diabase. Nephelinite is exposed on the islands but is extremely rare. The majority of eruptions in Hawaiʻi are Hawaiian-type eruptions because basaltic magma is relatively fluid compared with magmas typically involved in more explosive eruptions, such as the andesitic magmas that produce some of the spectacular and dangerous eruptions around the margins of the Pacific basin.
Hawaiʻi island (the Big Island) is the biggest and youngest island in the chain, built from five volcanoes. Mauna Loa, taking up over half of the Big Island, is the largest shield volcano on the Earth. The measurement from sea level to summit is more than 2.5 miles (4 km), from sea level to sea floor about 3.1 miles (5 km).
The Hawaiian Islands have many earthquakes, generally caused by volcanic activity. Most of the early earthquake monitoring took place in Hilo, by missionaries Titus Coan, Sarah J. Lyman and her family. Between 1833 and 1896, approximately 4 or 5 earthquakes were reported per year.
Hawaii accounted for 7.3% of the United States' reported earthquakes with a magnitude 3.5 or greater from 1974 to 2003, with a total 1533 earthquakes. Hawaii ranked as the state with the third most earthquakes over this time period, after Alaska and California.
On October 15, 2006, there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 off the northwest coast of the island of Hawaii, near the Kona area of the big island. The initial earthquake was followed approximately five minutes later by a magnitude 5.7 aftershock. Minor-to-moderate damage was reported on most of the Big Island. Several major roadways became impassable from rock slides, and effects were felt as far away as Honolulu, Oahu, nearly 150 miles (240 km) from the epicenter. Power outages lasted for several hours to days. Several water mains ruptured. No deaths or life-threatening injuries were reported.
On May 4, 2018 there was a 6.9 earthquake in the zone of volcanic activity from Kīlauea.
Earthquakes are monitored by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory run by the USGS.
The Hawaiian Islands are subject to tsunamis, great waves that strike the shore. Tsunamis are most often caused by earthquakes somewhere in the Pacific. The waves produced by the earthquakes travel at speeds of 400–500 miles per hour (600–800 km/h) and can affect coastal regions thousands of miles (kilometers) away.
Tsunamis may also originate from the Hawaiian Islands. Explosive volcanic activity can cause tsunamis. The island of Molokaʻi had a catastrophic collapse or debris avalanche over a million years ago; this underwater landslide likely caused tsunamis. The Hilina Slump on the island of Hawaiʻi is another potential place for a large landslide and resulting tsunami.
The city of Hilo on the Big Island has been most affected by tsunamis, where the in-rushing water is accentuated by the shape of Hilo Bay. Coastal cities have tsunami warning sirens.
A tsunami resulting from an earthquake in Chile hit the islands on February 27, 2010. It was relatively minor, but local emergency management officials utilized the latest technology and ordered evacuations in preparation for a possible major event. The Governor declared it a "good drill" for the next major event.
A tsunami resulting from an earthquake in Japan hit the islands on March 11, 2011. It was relatively minor, but local officials ordered evacuations in preparation for a possible major event. The tsunami caused about $30.1 million in damages.
The islands are home to a multitude of endemic species. Since human settlement, first by Polynesians, non native trees, plants, and animals were introduced. These included species such as rats and pigs, that have preyed on native birds and invertebrates that initially evolved in the absence of such predators. The growing population of humans has also led to deforestation, forest degradation, treeless grasslands, and environmental degradation. As a result, many species which depended on forest habitats and food became extinct—with many current species facing extinction. As humans cleared land for farming, monocultural crop production replaced multi-species systems.[ citation needed ]
The arrival of the Europeans had a more significant impact, with the promotion of large-scale single-species export agriculture and livestock grazing. This led to increased clearing of forests, and the development of towns, adding many more species to the list of extinct animals of the Hawaiian Islands. As of 2009 [update] , many of the remaining endemic species are considered endangered.
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On June 15, 2006, President George W. Bush issued a public proclamation creating Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Monument encompasses the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and surrounding waters, forming the largestmarine wildlife reserve in the world. In August 2010, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee added Papahānaumokuākea to its list of World Heritage Site s. On August 26, 2016, President Barack Obama greatly expanded Papahānaumokuākea, quadrupling it from its original size.
The climate of the Hawaiian Islands is tropical but it experiences many different climates, depending on altitude and weather.The islands receive most rainfall from the trade winds on their north and east flanks (the windward side) as a result of orographic precipitation. Coastal areas in general and especially the south and west flanks or leeward sides, tend to be drier.
In general, the lowlands of Hawaiian Islands receive most of their precipitation during the winter months (October to April).Drier conditions generally prevail from May to September. The tropical storms, and occasional hurricanes, tend to occur from July through November.
Midway Atoll is a 2.4-square-mile (6.2 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean at. Midway is roughly equidistant between North America and Asia. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. Midway continues to be the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago that is not part of the state of Hawaii. Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, Midway observes Samoa Time, which is one hour behind the time in the state of Hawaii. For statistical purposes, Midway is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing 590,991.50 acres (239,165.77 ha) of land and water in the surrounding area, is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The refuge and most of its surrounding area are part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Hawaiʻi anglicized Hawaii is the largest island located in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is the largest and the southeasternmost of the Hawaiian Islands, a chain of volcanic islands in the North Pacific Ocean. With an area of 4,028 square miles (10,430 km2), it has 63% of the Hawaiian archipelago's combined landmass, and is the largest island in the United States. However, it has only 13% of Hawaiʻi's people. The island of Hawaiʻi is the third largest island in Polynesia, behind the two main islands of New Zealand.
Hilo is the largest town and census-designated place (CDP) in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States, which encompasses the Island of Hawaiʻi. The population was 43,263 according to the 2010 census.
Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi in the Pacific Ocean. The largest subaerial volcano in both mass and volume, Mauna Loa has historically been considered the largest volcano on Earth, dwarfed only by Tamu Massif. It is an active shield volcano with relatively gentle slopes, with a volume estimated at approximately 18,000 cubic miles (75,000 km3), although its peak is about 125 feet (38 m) lower than that of its neighbor, Mauna Kea. Lava eruptions from Mauna Loa are silica-poor and very fluid, and they tend to be non-explosive.
Kāneʻohe Bay, at 45 km², is the largest sheltered body of water in the main Hawaiian Islands. This reef-dominated embayment constitutes a significant scenic and recreational feature along the northeast coast of the Island of Oʻahu. The largest population center on Kāneʻohe Bay is the town of Kāneʻohe.
Kure Atoll or Ocean Island is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean 48 nautical miles WNW of Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resource--Division of Forestry and Wildlife as one of the co-trustees of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument with support from Kure Atoll Conservancy.. The only land of significant size is called Green Island and is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds. A short, unused and unmaintained runway and a portion of one building, both from a former United States Coast Guard LORAN station, are located on the island. Politically, it is part of Hawaii, although separated from the rest of the state by Midway, which is a separate unorganized territory. Green Island, in addition to being the nesting grounds of tens of thousands of seabirds, has recorded several vagrant terrestrial birds including snow bunting, eyebrowed thrush, brambling, olive-backed pipit, black kite, Steller's sea eagle and Chinese sparrowhawk. It is currently managed as a Wildlife Bird Sanctuary by the
The Gardner Pinnacles are two barren rock outcrops surrounded by a reef and located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at.
The Samoan Islands are an archipelago covering 3,030 km2 (1,170 sq mi) in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania. Administratively, the archipelago comprises all of the Independent State of Samoa and most of American Samoa. The nearest land masses of the two Samoan jurisdictions are separated by 64 km (40 mi) of ocean.
Nihoa, also known as Bird Island or Moku Manu, is the tallest of ten islands and atolls in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The island is located at the southern end of the NWHI chain, 296 km (160 nmi) southeast of Necker Island. Nihoa is the closest NWHI in proximity to the eight main windward Hawaiian Islands at approximately 240 km (130 nmi) northwest of the island of Kauaʻi. The island has two peaks, 272 m (892 ft) Miller's Peak in the west, and 259 m (850 ft) Tanager Peak in the east. Nihoa's area is about 171 acres (0.69 km2) and is surrounded by a 142,000-acre (57,000 ha) coral reef. Its jagged outline gives the island its name, Nīhoa, which is Hawaiian for "tooth".
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands or Leeward Islands are the small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain located northwest of the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Politically, they are all part of Honolulu County in the U.S. state of Hawaii, except Midway Atoll, which is a territory distinct from Hawaii and grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The United States Census Bureau defines this area, except Midway, as Census Tract 114.98 of Honolulu County. Its total land area is 3.1075 square miles (8.048 km2). All the islands except Nihoa are north of the Tropic of Cancer, making them the only islands in Hawaii that lie outside the tropics.
The Pearl and Hermes Atoll is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a group of small islands and atolls that form the farthest northwest portion of the Hawaiian island chain. The atoll consists of a variable number of flat and sandy islets, typically between five and seven. More were noted in historical sources but have since been lost to erosion and rising sea levels.
The Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain is a mostly undersea mountain range in the Pacific Ocean that reaches above sea level in Hawaii. It is composed of the Hawaiian ridge, consisting of the islands of the Hawaiian chain northwest to Kure Atoll, and the Emperor Seamounts: together they form a vast underwater mountain region of islands and intervening seamounts, atolls, shallows, banks and reefs along a line trending southeast to northwest beneath the northern Pacific Ocean. The seamount chain, containing over 80 identified undersea volcanoes, stretches about 6,200 kilometres (3,900 mi) from the Aleutian Trench in the far northwest Pacific to the Loʻihi seamount, the youngest volcano in the chain, which lies about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of the Island of Hawaiʻi.
The Hilina Slump, on the south flank of the Kīlauea Volcano on the southeast coast of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, is the most notable of several landslides that ring each of the Hawaiian Islands. These landslides are the means by which material deposited at a volcano's vents are transferred downward and seaward, eventually spilling onto the seabed to broaden the island.
Papakōlea Beach is a green sand beach located near South Point, in the Kaʻū district of the island of Hawaiʻi. It is one of only four green sand beaches in the world, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam; Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands; and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway. It gets its distinctive coloring from olivine sand eroded out of the enclosing volcanic cone.
The Hawaii hotspot is a volcanic hotspot located near the namesake Hawaiian Islands, in the northern Pacific Ocean. One of the best known and intensively studied hotspots in the world, the Hawaii plume is responsible for the creation of the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, a 6,200-kilometer (3,900 mi) mostly undersea volcanic mountain range. Four of these volcanoes are active, two are dormant; more than 123 are extinct, most now preserved as atolls or seamounts. The chain extends from south of the island of Hawaiʻi to the edge of the Aleutian Trench, near the eastern coast of Russia.
The 1868 Hawaii earthquake was the largest recorded in the history of Hawaiʻi island, with an estimated magnitude of 7.9 Mfa and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). The earthquake occurred at 4 p.m. local time on April 2, 1868 and caused a landslide and tsunami that led to 77 deaths. The aftershock sequence for this event has continued up to the present day.
On May 4, 2018, an earthquake with a magnitude of Mw 6.9 struck Hawaii island in the Hawaii archipelago at around 12:33 p.m. local time. The earthquake's epicenter was near the south flank of Kīlauea, which has been the site of seismic and volcanic activity since late April. According to the United States Geological Survey the quake was related to the new lava outbreaks at the volcano, and it resulted in the Hilina Slump moving about two feet. It was the largest earthquake to affect Hawaii since the 1975 earthquake, which affected the same region, killing two people and injuring another 28.
The Honolulu Volcanics are a group of volcanoes which form a volcanic field on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, more specifically in that island's southeastern sector and in the city of Honolulu from Pearl Harbor to the Mokapu Peninsula. It is part of the rejuvenated stage of Hawaiian volcanic activity, which occurred after the main stage of volcanic activity that on Oahu built the Koʻolau volcano. These volcanoes formed through dominantly explosive eruptions and gave rise to cinder cones, lava flows, tuff cones and volcanic islands. Among these are well known landmarks such as Diamond Head and Punchbowl Crater.