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The proximal part of the giant submarine Wailau landslide, Molokai, Hawaii

January 1, 2002

The main break-in-slope on the northern submarine flank of Molokai at -1500 to -1250 m is a shoreline feature that has been only modestly modified by the Wailau landslide. Submarine canyons above the break-in-slope, including one meandering stream, were subaerially carved. Where such canyons cross the break-in-slope, plunge pools may form by erosion from bedload sediment carried down the canyons. West Molokai Volcano continued infrequent volcanic activity that formed a series of small coastal sea cliffs, now submerged, as the island subsided. Lavas exposed at the break-in-slope are subaerially erupted and emplaced tholeiitic shield lavas. Submarine rejuvenated-stage volcanic cones formed after the landslide took place and following at least 400-500 m of subsidence after the main break-in-slope had formed. The sea cliff on east Molokai is not the headwall of the landslide, nor did it form entirely by erosion. It may mark the location of a listric fault similar to the Hilina faults on present-day Kilauea Volcano. The Wailau landslide occurred about 1.5 Ma and the Kalaupapa Peninsula most likely formed 330??5 ka. Molokai is presently stable relative to sea level and has subsided no more than 30 m in the last 330 ka. At their peak, West and East Molokai stood 1.6 and 3 km above sea level. High rainfall causes high surface runoff and formation of canyons, and increases groundwater pressure that during dike intrusions may lead to flank failure. Active shield or postshield volcanism (with dikes injected along rift zones) and high rainfall appear to be two components needed to trigger the deep-seated giant Hawaiian landslides. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title The proximal part of the giant submarine Wailau landslide, Molokai, Hawaii
DOI 10.1016/S0377-0273(01)00261-X
Authors D. A. Clague, J. G. Moore
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Series Number
Index ID 70024561
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization