|The Hawaiian Islands are the tops of volcanoes that rise as much as 30,000 feet above the sea floor. (Map used by permission of Dynamic Graphics, Berkeley, California.)|
The Hawaiian Islands are at the southeastern end of a chain of volcanoes that began to form over 70 million years ago. Each island is made up of one or more volcanoes that first erupted at the bottom of the sea and emerged above the ocean's surface after countless eruptions over hundreds of thousands of years. Most of the volcanic activity in historical time has occurred on the Island of Hawaii, the youngest island of the chain. Hawaii is composed of five volcanoes, at least two of which -- Kilauea and Mauna Loa -- are expected to erupt frequently throughout the foreseeable future.
The Island of Hawaii owes its unique landscape to its volcanic origin. From the barren, red cinder cones on the summit of Mauna Kea to the fern-lined craters and black sand beaches of Puna, volcanic activity has combined with the subtropical climate to create the scenery that draws visitors from all over the world. Hawaii's residents not only enjoy the benefits of past volcanic activity, but also have the opportunity to witness the frequent eruptions of the active volcanoes as the island continues to grow.
Information in this booklet on hazards on the Island of Hawaii will help residents to make decisions about where to buy property, build a house, or start a business. A family planning to build a home may decide that the advantages of an area, such as the beauty of a beach lot, outweigh the risks, even in a high hazard zone. But such decisions can be made intelligently only if the hazards are understood beforehand.
Public officials who must make decisions regarding land-use planning will also find the information in this publication useful. The Hawaii County government receives numerous proposals for development projects ranging from resort complexes to space launch facilities. Obviously, the degree of volcanic and seismic hazard at a given site should be a major factor in evaluating these projects.
|The Island of Hawaii and its five volcanoes. The rift zones of the historically active volcanoes are indicated by the stippled gray pattern. Dashed lines indicate the boundaries of districts on the island.|
|Previous||Table of Contents||Next|