Subject: Erosion of Maui

How many million years will it be before erosion causes the last peak on Maui to sink beneath the ocean waves and where will the island be located at that time as a result of the movement of the earth's plates?

    I hope you realize we cannot answer your question with certainity. Haleakala on Maui is one of the tallest Hawaiian volcanoes. Thus, it is hard to anticipate how it will behave compared to smaller volcanoes. There is no volcanic rock above sea level for any Hawaiian rock older than about 15 Million years. It is Gardner Pinnacles which was a very large volcano in its day.
    Thus, if I were to offer a guess, I would suggest it will take at least 10 million and perhaps 15 to 20 million years before Maui disappears under the ocean.
    Maui, like all Hawaiian volcanoes will have drifted ~10 cm/yr to the NW, so in 10 million years it will be ~1000 km from its current location at about the location of the island of Necker. In 20 m.y. it will be twice that distance and the location of Laysan atoll.

Dr. Michael Garcia, Professor of Geology
Department of Geology and Geophysics
University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822

Return to the Ask-An-Earth-Scientist © page