Loihi – Hawaii’s Newest Island

What's New — By lottietagupa on April 17, 2010 at 3:57 am

Her name is Loihi and she is located 28 kilometers off the southeast coast of the Big Island of Hawaii at a depth of 969 meters at latitude 18.92 N and longitude 155.25 W. She rises 10,100 feet above the ocean floor to within 3,100 feet of the Pacific Ocean surface. No, she’s not a sunken ship of treasure or any other man-made object.

She is the newest of the Hawaiian Islands building toward the surface and her birth has been documented by earthquake swarms, visual studies in submersibles in the mid-1990’s. The submarine volcano is located in the waters off Kalapana on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii.

Loihi shares a huge volcanic hot spot with its larger active siblings Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The dating of the past volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaii has also supported the hot spot hypothesis. Kohala, at the northwestern corner of the island, in the general vicinity of the Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea Beach hotels is the oldest. The second oldest is Mauna Kea, which last erupted about 3,000 years ago followed by Hualalai, which has had only one historic eruption and lastly, both Mauna Loa and Kilauea have been vigorously and repeatedly active in historic times with Kilauea believed to be the youngest.

The size of the Hawaiian hot spot is not precisely known, but it presumably is large enough to encompass the currently active volcanoes of Mauna Loa, Kilauea, Loihi, and, possibly, also Hualalai and Haleakala. It has been estimated to be about 200 miles across with narrow vertical passageways that feed the molten lava to the surface or into long narrow lava tubes near the surface.

Loihi is still an island being held in the womb of mother earth. She is expected to break the surface of the ocean in another thousand years.