Type “Hawaii” into the search bar of Google Earth and examine the chain of Hawaiian Islands. On a separate sheet of paper please draw yourself a map of the islands and label the following on your map (making sure to include the names), which will be used to answer the following questions.
Islands to Include:
Big Island, Maui, Kauai, Nihoa (23 03 32.79N 161 55 11.94W)
a. Put a North arrow on your map.
b. Label the ages of each of the islands determined by radiometric dating of the lava.
Big Island- 0 (active), Maui – 1.1 million, Kauai- 4.7 million, Nihoa- 7.2 million years
a. Place a dot at the center of each island and measure on Google earth the distance between the center of an island and its adjacent island in centimeters (for example measure the distance between the center of the Big Island and Maui).
b. Look closely at each island in Google Earth and record their maximum elevation in centimeters. Remember elevation can be found by placing your cursor over a point and reading the elevation on the lower right of the image by the latitude and longitude. The elevation will be given in meters but can be converted to centimeters by multiplying by 100. (Hint: tilting the image of the island will help to find the highest point.)
Part B - Hawaii
8. Consider the ages and positions of the islands listed above along with what you know about plate tectonics and hotspots. In what general direction is the Pacific Plate moving?
a. Northwest b. Southeast c. Northeast d. Southwest
9. How fast was the Pacific plate moving during the last 1.1 million years between the formation of the Big Island and Maui in cm/year? To calculate this divide the distance (in centimeters) between the two islands by the difference in their ages.
10. How fast was the Pacific plate moving from 7.2 million years ago to 4.7 million years ago between the formation of Kauai and Nihoa in cm/year? To calculate this divide the distance (in centimeters) between the two islands by the difference in their ages.
11. Examine the headings of the measurements that you took for the previous two questions. The headings indicate the direction the Pacific Plate is moving over the hot spot. How does the direction of motion of the Pacific Plate during the last 1.1 million years differ from the direction of movement between 4.7 and 7.2 million years ago? The direction of plate movement in the last 1.1 million years________.
a. shows no change b. has become more southerly c. has become more northerly
12. Zoom out and examine the dozens of sunken volcanoes out past Nihoa, named the Emperor Seamounts. As one of these volcanic islands on the Pacific Plate moves off the hotspot it becomes inactive, or extinct, and the island begins to sink as it and the surrounding tectonic plates cool down. The speed the islands are sinking can be estimated by measuring the difference in elevation between two islands and dividing by the difference in their ages (this method assumes the islands were a similar size when they were active). Calculate how fast the Hawaiian Islands are sinking, by using the ages and elevations of Maui and Nihoa.
13. Using the speed you calculated in the previous question (and ignoring possible changes in sea level), when will the Big Island of Hawaii sink below the surface of the ocean? Divide the current maximum elevation of the Big Island by the rate you calculated in the previous question.
14. Now zoom out to ~4000 miles eye altitude and look at the chain of Hawaiian Islands again. Notice the chain continues for thousands of miles up to Aleutian Islands (between Alaska and Siberia). Examine the northernmost sunken volcano (50 49 16.99N 167 16 36.12E) in this chain. Where was that volcano located when it was still active, erupting, and above the surface of the ocean?
a. 50 49 16.99N 167 16 36.12E b. 52 31 48.72N 166 25 43.14W
c. 27 45 49.27N 177 10 08.75W d. 19 28 15.23N 155 19 14.43W