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Volcanology in Hawaii

January 1, 1988

Polynesians who first inhabited the Hawaiian Islands told in legend about Pele, Goddess of volcanic fires, who migrated from the Island of Kauai to Oahu, then to Maui, and finally to her present home in Kilauea Volcano's Halemaumau Crater on the Island of Hawaii. Geologists today accept this same relative age progressions for the evolution of the islands, demonstrating the kernels of geologic truth may lie in long-lived myths and legends.

J.D. Dana, a geologist with a United states exploring expedition in the 1840's, was the first to write about the increase in age of the Hawaiian Islands to the northwest. He noted that weathering of the lavas, erosional destruction of the islands by waves and streams and the growth of reeds around the islands progressively increased away from the Island of Hawaii. He correctly established the islands' relative ages, but absolute ages had to wait for over 120 years until radioactive age-dating techniques became available. 

Publication Year 1988
Title Volcanology in Hawaii
Authors R. Decker, B. Decker
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
Index ID 70162568
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse