facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Study: Hawaiian island slowly dissolving

Dec. 21, 2012 at 7:42 PM   |   Comments

PROVO, Utah, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- The mountains on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands are dissolving from within under the slow but inexorable onslaught of groundwater, researchers say.

Sometime in the distant future the mountainous tropical island will be reduced to a flat, low-lying island similar to Midway, scientists at Brigham Young University reported Friday.

While external erosion is the primary force that wears down mountains, that's not the case on Oahu, they said.

"We tried to figure out how fast the island is going away and what the influence of climate is on that rate," BYU geologist Steve Nelson said. "More material is dissolving from those islands than what is being carried off through erosion."

That was the result from comparing groundwater against stream water to see which removed more of the total quantity of mineral material mass that disappeared from the island each year, the researchers said.

"All of the Hawaiian Islands are made of just one kind of rock," Nelson said, referring to the volcanic composition of the islands. "The weathering rates are variable, too, because rainfall is so variable, so it's a great natural laboratory."

While Oahu is at present still growing, after about 1.5 million years the force of groundwater will eventually triumph and the island will begin its descent to a low-lying topography, the researchers said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police
2
Physicists teleport photon over 15 miles Physicists teleport photon over 15 miles
3
Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV
4
Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India
5
Major palm oil companies to halt deforestation Major palm oil companies to halt deforestation
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback