Growth History of Kaena Volcano, the Isolated, Dominantly Submarine, Precursor Volcano to Oahu, Hawaii
Monday, 15 December 2014
The construction of O‘ahu began with the recently recognized, ~3.5-4.9 Ma Ka‘ena Volcano, as an isolated edifice in the Kaua‘i Channel. Ka‘ena remained submarine until, near the end of its lifetime as magma supply waned and the volcano transitioned to a late-shield stage of activity, it emerged to reach a maximum elevation of ~1000 m above sea level. We estimate that Ka‘ena was emergent only for the last 15-25% of its lifespan, and that subaerial lavas make up < 5% of the total volume (20-27 x 103 km3). O‘ahu’s other volcanoes, Wai‘anae (~3.9-2.85 Ma) and Ko‘olau (~3.0-1.9 Ma), were built at least partly on the flanks of earlier edifices and both were active subaerial volcanoes for at least 1 Ma. The constructional history of Ka‘ena contrasts with that of Wai‘anae, Ko‘olau, and many other Hawaiian volcanoes, which likely emerge within a few hundred kyr after inception, and with subaerial lavas comprising up to 35 volume % of the volcano. These relations suggest that volcano growth history and morphology are critically dependent on whether volcanic initiation and growth occur in the deep ocean floor (isolated), or on the flanks of pre-existing edifices. Two other volcanoes that likely formed in isolation are West Moloka‘i and Kohala, both of which have long submarine rift zones, and neither attained great heights above sea level despite having substantial volume. The partitioning of volcanism between submarine and subaerial volcanism depends on the distance between volcanic centers, whether new volcanoes initiate on the flanks of earlier ones, and the time over which neighboring volcanoes are concurrently active. Ka‘ena might represent an end-member in this spectrum, having initiated far from its next oldest neighbor and completed much of its evolution in isolation.