Coastal circulation and water-column properties off Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai, Hawaii, 2008-2010

Open-File Report 2011-1154
By: , and 



More than 2.2 million measurements of oceanographic forcing and the resulting water-column properties were made off U.S. National Park Service's Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the north shore of Molokai, Hawaii, between 2008 and 2010 to understand the role of oceanographic processes on the health and sustainability of the area's marine resources. The tides off the Kalaupapa Peninsula are mixed semidiurnal. The wave climate is dominated by two end-members: large northwest Pacific winter swell that directly impacts the study site, and smaller, shorter-period northeast trade-wind waves that have to refract around the peninsula, resulting in a more northerly direction before propagating over the study site. The currents primarily are alongshore and are faster at the surface than close to the seabed; large wave events, however, tend to drive flow in a more cross-shore orientation. The tidal currents flood to the north and ebb to the south. The waters off the peninsula appear to be a mix of cooler, more saline, deeper oceanic waters and shallow, warmer, lower-salinity nearshore waters, with intermittent injections of freshwater, generally during the winters. Overall, the turbidity levels were low, except during large wave events. The low overall turbidity levels and rapid return to pre-event background levels following the cessation of forcing suggest that there is little fine-grained material. Large wave events likely inhibit the settlement of fine-grained sediment at the site. A number of phenomena were observed that indicate the complexity of coastal circulation and water-column properties in the area and may help scientists and resource managers to better understand the implications of the processes on marine ecosystem health.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Coastal circulation and water-column properties off Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai, Hawaii, 2008-2010
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2011-1154
DOI 10.3133/ofr20111154
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description iv, 17 p.
Country United States
State Hawai'i
Other Geospatial Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Molokai
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details