Successful Northern Hawaiian Islands Expedition Completes Voyage

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Oct 9, 2007

A 4-week expedition to the Northern Hawaiian Islands came to an end on Monday morning, with the arrival of the R/V Kilo Moana in Honolulu Harbor. During this month long cruise, an international team of research scientists mapped a large area of the seafloor around the northern Hawaiian Islands, as well as located and sampled numerous previously unknown volcanoes using the Jason2 robotic submarine.

The cruise was followed closely by classrooms at virtually all of the schools on Kauai, as local Kauai teacher Linda Sciaroni wrote a daily blog about the cruise, designing exciting experiments and giving assignments for the students following along.

Highlights of work accomplished and findings:
This highly successful expedition mapped and sampled the seafloor around the islands of Kauaʻi, Niʻihau, Kaʻula (a military bombing target) and Middle Bank (the southernmost leeward shield volcano, located just outside of the new Papah¨¡naumoku¨¡kea Marine National Monument).

Major accomplishments are:
1. The University of Hawaii research ship Kilo Moana drove over 2500 miles mapping 17,000 square miles of the sea floor, which is 50% larger than the total area of the state of Hawaii.
2. Many tens of previously unknown volcanoes were found around the northern Hawaiian Islands of Kauaʻi, Niʻihau, Kaʻula and Middle Bank.
3. During 11 JASON dives 363 samples were collected. They weigh in total over 2600 pounds.
4. Public outreach program during the cruise to interact with Hawaii public schools, including 20 teachers at virtually all schools on Kauai. Daily communication with schools and updates to the public were provided via the University of Hawaii website

The goal of this expedition was to map and sample volcanoes formed by secondary Hawaiian volcanism around the northern Hawaiian Islands. Secondary volcanism occurs well after the main phase of volcanism that creates 99+% of the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head in Honolulu is the classic example of secondary volcanism. It formed more than 1.5 million years after end of volcanism that created the island of Oʻahu. The last secondary eruption on Oʻahu was about 30,000 years ago. This National Science Foundation sponsored study includes both land and submarine investigations to examine the volcanoes produced by secondary volcanism.

The seafloor around the northern Hawaiian Islands was the focus of our study because KauaʻI, being one of the oldest Hawaiian Islands, has more secondary lavas than any other island. This offshore area had been poorly mapped and offered great potential for new discoveries. Our expectations were exceeded during this expedition.

The new discoveries show that secondary volcanism is more widespread and more voluminous than previously thought. These results necessitate major revisions to our overall understanding of the origin of secondary volcanism and how the Hawaiian Islands evolve with time.

Future work:
New maps of the seafloor around the Hawaiian Islands will be produced and made available to the public at the UH School of Ocean, Earth Sciences and Technology (SOEST) website. An international team of geologists and geochemists from the US, Canada and Japan will determine eruption ages and chemical compositions of the new lava samples. These results will be published in scientific journals.

The chemical and age information will be used to develop a new model to describe the cause of secondary volcanism in Hawaii and on other oceanic volcanoes such as the Samoan, Society and Canary islands, and to be better understand how the Earth works.

Scientific Team members:
Michael Garcia, University of Hawaiʻi Professor and Chief Scientist;
Garrett Apuzen-Ito, UH Professor, Co-Chief Scientist;
Bruce Appelgate, UH Professor, Seafloor Mapping Coordinator;
Lisa Swinnard, UH Graduate Student;
Todd Bianco, UH Graduate Student;
Ashton Flinders, UH Graduate Student;
Dominique Weis, Univ. of British Columbia, Canada, Professor;
Diane Hanano, Univ. of British Columbia, Graduate Student;
In¨ºs Nobre Silva, Univ. of British Columbia, Graduate Student;
Terry Naumann, Univ. Alaska Anchorage Professor;
Denny Geist, Univ. Idaho Professor;
Claude Maerschalk, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium;
Karen Harpp, Colgate University Professor;
Branden Christensen, Colgate University Graduate;
Chuck Blay, Kauai Geologist and Educator;
Linda Sciaroni, Kauai Public Schools, Outreach Specialist.

JASON2 Team:
Phil Forte - Expedition Leader, ROV Pilot;
Bob Waters - ROV Pilot; Dan Duffany - Navigator;
Robert Elder - Engineer; Casey Agee - Navigator;
Casey Machado - Engineer; Steve Gegg - Navigator;
Akel Kevis-Stirling ¨C Navigator (former UH student);
Will Handley - ROV Pilot; Peter Lemmond ¨C Data Archivist.

For Interviews contact:

Michael Garcia, Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean & Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI Phone: (808) 956-6641, Garrett Ito, Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean & Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI Phone: (808) 956-9717,

For more information, visit: