Stop 15: South Point
This is the southernmost place in the United States, at 18 degrees, 55 minutes north. From here, there is almost nothing south of us except Antarctica! It is one of the favorite fishing grounds for Hawaiians, and is believed to be the place where Polynesians from the southern hemisphere first landed in Hawaii more than 1,200 years ago.
The Kahuku Pali is a large fault scarp that is down dropped to the west at South Point. The Pali, which extends far offshore, is probably the eastern margin of a large arcuate scarp that has been mostly buried by more recent lava flows. To the right in this image we can see a fine exposure of Pahala Ash, which has an un-proven origin but was probably produced by a giant explosive eruption of Kilauea volcano.
Dave Mark is seen here standing in front of part of the Pahala Ash section at South Point. Age dating of several deposits of Pahala Ash that are found in cliff outcrops on Kilauea point to an age of about 22,000 years for this deposit.
Walking east around South Point, one comes across a series of partially buried lava flows that can be easily seen in radar images of South Point. The ruler in this image is marked in 5 cm intervals.
Parts of South Point are very wind-swept, and there is very little vegetation on the ground. Even the few trees and plants that take root here are twisted by the almost-constant force of the Trade Winds.
You have now completed the tour around the Big Island. If you would like, you may revisit any of the locations by picking a point from the Big Island Virtual Field Trip page.
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Authors: Peter Mouginis-Mark & Lori Glaze
Copyright by P. Mouginis-Mark
Curator: Lori Glaze
Page Design: Laurence Laforga
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