Seismic data also indicate that the deepest earthquakes beneath Loihi merge with the deep earthquakes beneath neighboring Kilauea. This downward convergence implies that Loihi apparently is tapping the same deep magma supply that Kilauea and Mauna Loa tap. The triangular zone defined by the summits of these three active volcanoes perhaps can be taken to lie over the postulated Hawaiian hot spot.

Studies of Loihi provide a unique opportunity to decipher the youthful submarine stage in the formation and evolution of Hawaiian volcanoes. When might the still-growing Loihi emerge above the surface of the Pacific to become Hawaii's newest volcano island? It will almost certainly take several tens of thousands of years, if the growth rate for Loihi is comparable to that of other Hawaiian volcanoes. It is also possible that Loihi will never emerge above sea level and that the next link in the island chain has not yet begun to form.

Flank of Loihi

EQ's, vicinity of Loihi

Above: Map showing the locations of earthquakes that occurred during 1971-72 and 1975 in the vicinity of Loihi. These two earthquake swarms, plus a similar occurrence in 1984-85, provide seismic evidence that Loihi is an active submarine volcano.

Left: The flank of Loihi, showing broken pillow lava of a fresh flow, as seen from about 7 feet above the volcano's surface at a water depth of about 4,200 feet. (Photograph by Alexander Malahoff, University of Hawaii.)

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Maintained by John Watson
Updated 05.01.97