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How Old Are The Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands are the youngest of all the world’s volcanic islands, having been formed by a series of eruptions that began about 6 million years ago.

The Hawaiian Islands range from 750,000 years old to 6 million years old. The oldest is Niihau which is 6 million years old. Tectonic plate shifts continue to shape Hawai’i’s islands. The Big Island is still forming.

IslandHow Old (years)
The Big Island400,000 to 800,000
Maui750,000 to 1,300,000
Oahu3,000,000 to 5,000,000
Kauai4,000,000 to 5,000,000
Molokai1,300,000 to 1,900,000
Lanai1,300,000 to 1,900,000
Niihau6,000,000
Kahoolawe1,300,000

Located in the North Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands consist of eight major islands, several atolls, as well as many smaller islets. They are part of the Polynesia subregion of Oceania and are owned by the state of Hawaii.

The southeastern Hawaiian Islands are the tops of massive volcanoes, with Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea rising above the sea.

List of Hawaiian Islands by size

  • Big Island of Hawaii: 4,028.42 square miles (10,433.55 km²)
  • Maui: 771.99 square miles (1,999.45 km²)
  • Oahu: 597.64 square miles (1,547.88 km²)
  • Kauai: 552.35 square miles (1,430.59 km²)
  • Molokai: 260.46 square miles (674.58 km²)
  • Lanai: 141.07 square miles (365.36 km²)
  • Niihau: 67.60 square miles (175.09 km²)
  • Kahoolawe: 44.60 square miles (115.50 km²)

What is the age of the oldest Hawaiian Island?

Most of us know the 8 main islands. But, there are 137 islands altogether. Outside the main 8 islands, Kure Atoll is the oldest at approximately 28 million years old. 

 It is home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds and a small population of people. There are many seabirds that live on the reef, including the Black-footed Albatross, Laysan Albatross, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Red-tailed Tropic-bird, Blue-faced Booby, Brown Booby, Red-footed Booby, and Great Frigate-bird.

How were the Hawaiian Islands formed?

Hot spots under the seafloor erupted to form the Hawaiian islands. These hot spots are unique places because they’re not found at the boundaries of tectonic plates.
 
Volcanoes pushed magma through the Pacific tectonic plate as it moved northwest across the hot spot under the seafloor. Eventually, the lava solidified and formed the islands.
 
As the Pacific plate moves northwest, the older an island is, the more likely its first volcano has already eroded and become inactive. Hawaii’s Big Island is the youngest.

Facts for Kids
Facts for Kids

What is the Youngest Hawaiian Island?

Hawaiian island (the Big Island) is the biggest and youngest island. Big Island’s Mauna Loa volcano is the world’s biggest shield volcano, covering over half the island. The island is the largest island in the United States, with a landmass of 4,028 square miles (10,430 km2). 

The island of Hawai’i is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. 

List of volcanos

  • Kohala
  • Mauna Kea
  • Hualālai
  • Mauna Loa
  • Kīlauea 

It has a population of around 200,000, and you’ll find Akaka Falls State Park, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and Haleakalā National Park, to name a few places of interest. Lots of tourists will visit the Hawaiian volcanoes.

How old is Maui?

Maui is one of the youngest islands in the Hawaiian chain, with an age between 750,000 to 1,300,000 years old.

It’s home to several endangered species of birds, including the ‘Akohekohe (Palmeria dolei), Maui parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys), and Kiwikiu (Apteribis sp.). 

As Maui’s population grows, the undeveloped areas of the island that provide a refuge for the wildlife are decreasing in size. Maui is home to a number of birds, including the I’iwi and ‘Apapane. In winter, thousands of humpback whales pass by the island.

The island of Maui has a variety of microclimates, including Central Maui, leeward South Maui and West Maui, windward North Shore and East Maui, and Upcountry Maui.

This beautiful island has not erupted in over 200 years. The Last Volcano Eruption on Maui: La Perouse Bay was in 1790, making it a fascinating place to visit for tourists and residents alike. While Maui may be young, it does not lack when it comes to things to see and do! From its world-famous golf courses to its stunning beaches and lush valleys, Maui has something for everyone.

Where Are The Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands are located in the central Pacific Ocean, 3000 kilometers from North America. The islands are not connected to North America, and that is why they are considered a “Hawaiian State.”

The Hawaiians are part of the Polynesian Subregion that stretches from Hawaii’s main islands to the Aleutian Trench in the North Pacific. This area is known for its underwater volcanoes and lava.

The Hawaiian Islands are the youngest in the world and were created by hotspots from underwater volcanoes and lava. The primary creator of these beautiful islands is the Pacific plate, which shifts only 4 inches every year!

Once molten rock reaches the surface, it is called lava. Magma and lava can be distinguished by their appearance: magma is underground, while lava appears on Earth as a liquid or solid rock.

How Were The Hawaiian Islands Formed

The Hawaiian Islands were not all formed at the same time. In fact, they are still being formed! The islands are created by a combination of volcanic activity, plate tectonics, and erosion from weathering.

Hawaii is a geologically unique location. The 137 islands formed 40 to 70 million years ago. Several underwater volcanic eruptions formed the archipelago. 

Under the seafloor, magma burst until it reached the surface. When magma reaches the surface, it’s called lava. Landmasses form when lava cools and solidifies. This chain of islands has at least one volcano due to its volcanic origins.

The older an island is, the less likely it will be that its volcano is active. For example, Kauai is one of the oldest islands in the chain, and its volcano is no longer active. The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands and has more active volcanoes than any other island. This would explain why it’s so young and undeveloped.