Introduction: East Kauai has a fascinating geologic history, since much of this side of the island has experience catastrophic failures over the island's 5 million year history. Kauai originated as the Waialeale volcano, which once was the size of the present day Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island, grew over the Hawaii hot spot. Based on the distribution of a massive series of lava flows, the Waialeale volcano is believed to have once had a giant summit caldera about 20 km across called Olokele caldera. However, giant landslides (the deposits of which can be seen on the ocean floor to the north and south of Kauai) indicate that the original volcano became heavily modified by large-scale slumping. Rapid shield building, and rebuilding, took place about 4.5 to 3.9 million years ago, when the last phase of activity on Kauai was characterized by explosive eruptions. Since that time, erosion has been the dominant geologic process on Kauai.
Our air tour of Eastern Kauai enables us to see many of the landforms created during the collapse and rebuilding phases of the island. In addition, from Poipu Beach in the south to Kilauea Point in the north, we also get to see some of the most attractive scenery in Hawaii. Enjoy the tour!
Instructions: The virtual field trip to East Kauai is comprised of air photographs taken along four segments of the Kauai coastline. The locations numbered on the map indicate the locations of the individual photographs. You may begin the tour by clicking on the number 1, or you may visit any of the stops by clicking on the corresponding location number.
Author: Lori Glaze
Copyright by P. Mouginis-Mark
Curator: Lori Glaze