The Formation of the Hawaiian Island Chain.
The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most beautiful and popular island chains in the world. Millions of tourists visit the islands every year to experience the great treasures that they have to offer. People see Hawaii as an ideal vacation spot for many reasons including; a year round tropical climate, the lush vegetation, and the numerous black sand beaches. However, the Hawaiian Islands are not only pretty to look at. The Islands possess unique geological aspects that make it possible for the islands to have these desirable characteristics. The Hawaiian Islands were not pieces of a continent that drifted out to sea, but were actually created by volcanoes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The process in which this chain of island is formed is quite intriguing and complex. The different steps include the presence of a hot spot, the emergence of an oceanic volcano, the plate tectonics of the region, the submergence of the older volcanoes, and the dynamics of the active Hawaiian volcanoes.
Hawaii consists of many volcanoes that were produced by a feature known as the Hawaiian hot spot. A hot spot, or plume, is a large column of magma, molten lava, which rises from deep within the Earth's asthenosphere (Monroe 332). The magma that comes out of these columns is so hot that it can melt through the layer of earth on top of the asthenosphere, called the mantel, and through the Earth's crust (the top layer of the Earth). There are only forty known hot spots that exist today. Hot spots can be found under a continent or an ocean, at a mid-ocean ridge and even in the center of a plate, like the Hawaiian hot spot (Duxbury 78). Each hot spot channels hot material at its own unique time intervals. Hot spots are generally stationary, however; their positions may change slightly. A typical hot spot has a life span of about ten million years (Duxbury 78).