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Name: Stacy
Status: Other
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

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?

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

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