Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Last catastrophic landslide protects Kilauea from next

08.12.2003


Marine seismology reveals Hawaiian volcano’s past, sheds light on future dangers



The Hawaiian Islands are home to the largest documented shoreline collapse in history, an ancient seaward landslide that sent rocks from the island of Oahu to sites more than 100 miles offshore. The avalanche of debris from the northeast shore of Oahu probably occurred between 1.5 and 3 million years ago, and it undoubtedly created one of the largest tsunamis in Earth’s history, a wave large enough to inundate every coastline of the northern Pacific Ocean.

Today, geologists are studying whether seismic and tectonic forces are creating the potential for a similar disaster on the southeast shore of the big island of Hawaii, near Kilauea volcano. The world’s most active volcano, Kilauea is continually growing larger. At the same time, its seaward flank is moving toward the Pacific, currently at the rate of about 10 centimeters per year. Kilauea’s movement takes several forms. Layers of lava and sediment atop the mountain are pulled down by the force of gravity. The entire mountain itself also moves slowly out to sea as magma derived from deep within the earth’s mantle intrudes into the core of the volcano.


"From previous studies, we know that Kilauea is the site of an active landslide, the Hilina slump, which has moved in historic times," said Julia Morgan, assistant professor of Earth Science at Rice University. "We now recognize that Kilauea also experienced a catastrophic landslide in the past, possibly within 25,000-50,000 years, which is quite recent in geologic terms."

The 10-by-15 mile Hilina slump is partially detached from the seaward flank of Kilauea, and is thought to be a candidate for catastrophic collapse. At this week’s fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Morgan will present new findings that the debris left over from the last catastrophic landslide on Kilauea is forming a buffer that stabilizes the Hilina slump. Morgan and her colleagues, Gregory Moore at the University of Hawaii and David Clague at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), reached this conclusion after a comprehensive analysis of two offshore seismic and seafloor mapping surveys conducted in 1998 by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and MBARI.

They found that the most recent collapse on Kilauea involved a detached piece of the mountain that was similar in size to the Hilina slump and located immediately to its northeast. When this section of the volcano slid away, it settled beneath the ocean at the base of Kilauea. As the entire volcano grew and slid oceanward, this debris piled up, much like snow piles up in front of a snowplow. The result is a broad, bench-like, submarine structure that sits at the foot of the mountain, about 15-20 miles off the coast. The downslope edge of the Hilina slump now impinges on the outer bench.

"Based on what we’ve seen, we believe that the outer bench is still growing, and we expect that the buttressing effect it exerts on the Hilina slump will increase accordingly," Morgan said. "This interaction reduces the likelihood of catastrophic detachment of the Hilina slump under present conditions."

However, because the outer bench contains a good deal of loose sediment and debris, it is also subject to catastrophic failure. For instance, the bench is riddled with small-scale faults and fractures. A massive volcanic eruption or a large earthquake like the 7.2-magnitude temblor that hit Hawaii in 1975 could shake the outer bench to pieces. Morgan said there is geologic evidence that something similar occurred on nearby Mauna Loa about 100,000 years ago.


The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from Landmark Graphics Corp.

Jade Boyd | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://chico.rice.edu/
http://www.riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/reno/photos/slope.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Improved monitoring of coral reefs with the HyperDiver
24.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Hidden river once flowed beneath Antarctic ice
22.08.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>