Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Pacific Volcanic Islands
Name: Stacy
Status: Other
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
I am trying to understand the formation of the volcanic islands of the Pacific. I read somewhere that the islands begin moving in a northwesterly direction after their formation. My question is: are the islands themselves actually moving (and eroding) or is the sub-sea volcanic action moving?



Replies:
It depends on the islands. Some of the volcanic Pacific islands form near plate boundaries, which of course move over geologic time. The Hawaiian chain if islands, however, is mid-plate, and sits over a hot spot. Currently, it appears that the hot spot is standing fixed and the Pacific plate is sliding over it, so that new islands form as the old ones move away from the lava source. However, there is some evidence that the hgot spot was moving earlier in its history, hence the dogleg bend in the Hawaiian chain. As far as I know, this question has not been settled definitively.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois



Click here to return to the Environmental and Earth Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory