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 A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core
24.05.2018 | University of Washington

nachricht Tropical Peat Swamps: Restoration of Endangered Carbon Reservoirs
24.05.2018 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

12th COMPAMED Spring Convention: Innovative manufacturing processes of modern implants

28.05.2018 | Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cognitive Power Electronics 4.0 is gaining momentum

28.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

Organic light-emitting diodes become brighter and more durable

28.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

12th COMPAMED Spring Convention: Innovative manufacturing processes of modern implants

28.05.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>