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The Hawaiian Islands, located in the central North Pacific, consist of eight main islands and more than 120 small islands, atolls and cliffs. With the exception of the coral reefs, the islands are of volcanic origin. In the course of the island’s genesis, which is attributed to a hotspot, the center of volcanic activity shifted from northwest to southeast. The island of Kauai (in the northeast) is 5.6 million years old, the geologically youngest island of Hawaii (in the southeast) was formed in the last 500,000 years. Of the volcanoes that gave rise to the Hawaiian archipelago, Mauna Loa (4,170 m above sea level; largest active volcano on earth, last eruptions in 1984 and 1987) and Kilauea(1,243 m above sea level; with volcano observatory) still active. At Kilauea, the almost constant flow of lava had not yet subsided since its eruption on January 3, 1983, when violent eruptions accompanied by tremors of magnitude 6.9 occurred in early May 2018. Deep crevices formed in the floor and toxic sulfur gases were released. The Mauna Kea volcano (4,205 m above sea level), which is also on the island of Hawaii and the highest mountain in the Hawaiian Islands, has not been active since the Polynesian colonization began. The subsoil of the coral reefs also consists of volcanic rock. In the northwest lies the Papahanaumokuakea marine reserve (UNESCO World Heritage Site), with 1.51 million km 2 the largest protected area on earth.
Climate and vegetation: Hawaii is in the outer tropics. The prevailing northeast trade winds, cooled by the Pacific, make the climate pleasant; Honolulu has mean temperatures of 22.5 ° C (January) and 26 ° C (August). The windward sides of the mountains have higher rainfall (maximum 12,500 mm per year) than the leeward sides; in Honolulu, the mean annual rainfall is around 600 mm. The winter snow cap on Mauna Kea enables skiing. – About 30% of the land surface is covered by forests. The mountain rainforest (up to about 1,800 m above sea level) is followed by an open, evergreen forest with increasing altitude (tree line 2,000–2,300 m above sea level). The original vegetation on the leeward sides of the islands (rain-green and hard-leaf dry forest, above dwarf shrub heaths and cushion plants.
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|1||University of Hawaii–Manoa
Department of Sociology
Address: 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-7693
Email: [email protected]