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Submerged Loihi Volcano: Destined To Be Hawaii's Newest Island?

If one looks over to the Midway Islands you will begin to see the island atolls on the extreme from the Hawaiian archipelago that has long since moved past the Hawaiian hotspot. The hot spot is continually bursting to the surface with volcanos while the earth's crust is sliding within the massive magma plume deep below.

Hawaii offers volcanoes like nowhere else on the planet. It boasts a few of the world's most active volcanoes – two of which are in the Hawaiin Volcanoes National Park. The Hawaiian Islands even has got the world's largest shield volcano called Mauna Loa and it is so large it's sunken the world's crust there.

The Hawaiian Spot And Island Chain

All the active volcanoes are in the southeastern end from the Hawaiian islands in and around Hawaiian Island. But these islands will slide away, their volcanoes goes silent, and they will weather back into the sea. In their place will be new islands. The next island already includes a name and is called Lō'ihi.

The hot spot is considered to become 70 to 85 million years old while the crust (the Pacific Plate) within the spot is moving for a price of around 7 cm or 2.75 inches each year – round the speed that fingernails grow.

  • Age: The Spot Is 70-85 Million Years of age
  • Movement: Around 7 cm or 2.75 Inches Each year

Hawaii has six main islands and 4 active volcanos (five active volcanos if one includes the subterranean Lō'ihi. There's also two dormant volcanoes and at least 123 extinct volcanoes.

  • Active: 4 Active Volcanoes
  • Dormant: 2 Dormant Volcanoes
  • Extinct: 123 Extinct Volcanoes (At Least)

Meet Hawaii's Future Island of Lō'ihi

Today Lō'ihi is really a seamount and is an energetic submarine volcano. It is around 22 miles or 35 kilometers southeast from the coast from the island of Hawaii.

Lō'ihi Seamount:

  • Beneath Sea Level: Around 3,200 feet (975 meters) beneath sea level
  • Above Sea Bed: 10,000 feet or 3,000 meters above the sea bed
  • Location: Around 22 Miles or 35 Kilometers Southeast of The Island of Hawaii
  • Age: Around 400,000 Years of age (The Youngest Volcano In Hawaii)
  • Future Emergence: Will end up an Island 10,000 to 100,000 Years From Now
  • Growth Rate: Perhaps around 0.1 Feet Each year Measured Over Geologic Time

It continues to have quite a distance to go until it is really an island because it is still around 3,200 ft (975 m) below sea level. But it's rising with every passing volcanic eruption. Lō'ihi includes a summit area with three pit craters on a rift zone around 7 miles long. The summit's pit craters are known as West Pit, East Pit, and Pele's Pit.

Lō'ihi is the youngest from the volcanoes within the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain (an enormous chain that extends around 3,900 mi (6,200 km) northwest of Lō'ihi).

  • Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain: Around 3,900 mi (6,200 km) Long

Lō'ihi is believed to be with 400,000 years back and it has already risen over 10,000 feet or 3,000 meters above the seafloor. Projections get it that it'll take another 10,000 to 100,000 years for that subterranean volcano to come to the surface and become Hawaii's youngest island.

Even though it is still nearly a kilometer underneath the top of the ocean, it is already taller than what Mount St. Helens was between it erupted in 1980. In 1996 Lō'ihi experiences a swarm of earthquakes. Its last known eruption was at 1996.

If the development rate for Lō'ihi is equivalent to those of other Hawaiian volcanoes, then one can expect it to grow at around 0.1 feet per year – as averaged over geologic time.

Still, it's also possible that it'll never leave sea level whether it grows as other volcanoes spout up. It is a reminder that within our lives the world might seem in balance and stable, but in geologic time it is definitely changing.

Lō'ihi Has already been An Alien Realm of Hydrovents

While Lō'ihi may not yet be an island, it already supports a diverse microbial community around its many hydrothermal vents. Hydrothermal vents offer a fascinating glimpse into a strange alien world underneath the waves. They were only discovered within the 1970s and have redefined our knowledge of what's needed for life.

  • Hydrothermal Vents: Much Like Geysers or Hot Springs – Just Cruising Floor
  • Origin Of Life: Could Have Begun At Thermal Vents
  • Unique Creatures: It Seems Some Creatures Are located Only At The Thermal Vents

The discovery and focus of these alien watery ecosystems in extreme environments in addition to the sun.

Lō'ihi is not as diverse with larger marine life when compared with other less active seamounts. So life on its hydrothermal vents tends to be more microbial. Still, there's some marine life around the seamount including Celebes monkfish, eels, two species of invertebrates endemic towards the hydrothermal vents, and other species.

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