Hawaiian Islands dissolving and in danger of disappearing

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Hawaiian Islands dissolving and in danger of disappearing
A quiet walk under the backdrop of Diamond Head is part of the experience of visiting Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Hawaii. (Michael Goulding/Orange County Register/MCT)

A group of researchers has found that the Hawaiian Islands are dissolving and in danger of disappearing in the future. The study was published in the Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta and warns that the islands’ mountains are dissolving from the inside because of groundwater erosion. This will eventually lead to the complete disappearance of the mountains while the entire area is in danger of being washed away.

“The Hawaiian Islands are known for their beautiful mountains, but there is an ongoing, hidden process that is slowly destroying them. Researchers have discovered that the mountains are dissolving from the inside. They studied Oahu and found that the groundwater is responsible for slowly eroding the mountains. Over time, they believe that the mountains will completely dissolve. They will disappear from the landscape, and all of Hawaii may be a distant memory in the future.

“Since the groundwater erosion is a natural phenomenon, there is little that can be done to stop it. The researchers did not provide any realistic methods to slow down the erosion or rebuild the mountains. In addition, the process is very slow. Although researchers urge that this needs to be studied more, they still believe that the islands can survive for 1.5 million years. They noted that the dissolving mountains are a bigger issue than the regular erosion of the land as it is destroying things at a quicker pace. Nevertheless, scientists do not expect for this to become a real issue for several centuries in Hawaii.

“Dissolving mountains may not be a real concern for 1.5 million years, but there are other aspects of the Hawaiian Islands that are more dangerous. The active volcanoes in Hawaii are often forgotten. In November, the Kilauea Volcano gave residents a reminder that it has not been dormant since 1983. Kilauea spewed lava into the ocean at a rapid rate, but this simply attracted more tourists to the area. An active volcano is capable of a lot more damage than slowly eroding mountains.

“The study published in the Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta was created as a warning of the future, and researchers are not concerned about Hawaii disappearing during their lifetimes. The estimated 1.5 million years may not seem significant, but the changes in the islands are slowly becoming visible. Nevertheless, real estate investors are not rushing to get rid of their properties in Hawaii, and no one is canceling vacations.


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