Hawaii is the only U.S. state that exists completely on volcanic rock. The island chain is riddled with active volcanoes, which have been evolving for the last 70 million years. The beautiful islands that are visible to the eye are only a fraction of what is underneath the ocean. There, the islands are composed almost entirely of volcanic topography. Each island exists as a result of volcanic eruptions that literally pushed the land mass above the water. While there are several volcanoes located beneath the surface of the islands, there are several which are noticeably and beautifully active above ground.
The most active volcano in Hawaii, and one of the most active in the world, is Kilauea. This volcano is also the youngest volcano on earth, and is located on the Big Island. This volcano has been in a constant state of eruption since 1983, and is perenially studied by scientists and researchers.
On the Big Island, Mauna Loa takes up more than half of the island surface. This volcano rises more than 13,000 feet above sea level, and is considered one of the tallest mountains in the world. This volcano is so tall it receives snowfall during the winter.
Mauna Kea is a Hawaiian volcano which rises almost 14,000 feet above sea level. It also stretches about 15,000 feet below sea level. This total height makes this volcano the tallest in the world. Mauna Kea volcano is currently inactive, and its last eruption occurred approximately 4,500 years ago. One of the unique features of this volcano is that it also contains glacial deposits which are thousands of years old.
The oldest volcano on dry land is Kohala, which is almost a million years old. This volcano rose above sea level more than 500,000 years ago. This volcano is more than 5,000 feet above sea level and is 234 square miles in surface area. Today, Kohala is inactive. Its last eruption occurred more than 120,000 years ago when the volcano was more than twice as big as it is today.
The youngest volcano in the Hawaiian chain is Lo’ihi. This volcano is approximately 400,000 years old and is more than 3,000 feet below sea level. It is located 22 miles off the Big Island just off the southeastern coast. It rises more than 10,000 feet off the ocean floor and is projected to emerge from the sea in about 10,000 years. Lo’ihi is considered an active volcano and its latest eruption occurred in 1996.
There are also two volcanoes located in Maui. These are known as the West and East Maui volcanoes. The West Maui volcano is over 1 and 1/2 million years old and hasn’t erupted for more than one million years. The East Maui volcano is the third largest of the Hawaiian volcanoes and has erupted more than ten times in the last 10,000 years. The last eruption of this volcano occurred in 1790.
Hawaii is home to several volcanoes, but only one, Kilauea is currently active. Some of these volcanoes are above ground while others are under the sea.