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The Big Island

Posted by feww on July 15, 2008

The Island of Hawaiʻi (the Big Island or Hawaiʻi Island) is a volcanic island With an area of 4,028 square miles (10,432 km²), it is the largest island in the United States and larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined.

The Island of Hawaiʻi is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. These are (from oldest to youngest):

  • Kohala (dormant),
  • Mauna Kea (dormant),
  • Hualālai (dormant),
  • Mauna Loa (active, partly within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park), and
  • Kīlauea (very active; part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park).

This simulated true-color image of the island of Hawai’i was derived from data gathered by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) on the Landsat 7 satellite between 1999 and 2001. Image: NASA/NOAA

The Island of Hawaiʻi is administered under the County of Hawaiʻi. The county seat is Hilo. It is estimated that as of the year 2003, the island had a resident population of 158,400.

MAP of Principal Islands of Hawaii

Source: [ Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]

In greatest dimension, the island is 93 miles (150 km) across and has a land area of 4,028.0 square miles (10,432.5 km²),representing 62% of the total land area of the Hawaiian Islands. Measured from its base at the sea floor, to its highest peak, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, even taller than Mount Everest, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Traditionally, Hawaiʻi is known as the Big Island because it is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands and some confusion between Hawaiʻi Island and Hawaiʻi State can be avoided.

Mauna Kea with its seasonal snowcap, viewed from Kohala Mountain . Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five volcanoes which together form the island of Hawaii. Pu’u Wekiu, one of numerous cinder cones on the summit plateau, is the highest point in the state of Hawaii at 13,796 feet (4,205 m). Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from base to summit, since its base is located on the seafloor about 19,000 feet (5,800 m) beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, bringing its total height to about 33,000 ft (10,000 m). In the Hawaiian language, mauna kea means “white mountain”, a reference to its summit being regularly snow-capped during the Northern Hemisphere winter. [Caption from Wikipedia]
Licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
Eric Guinther; via Wikimedia Commons

Because Mauna Loa and Kīlauea are active volcanoes, the island of Hawaiʻi is still growing. Between January 1983 and September 2002, 543 acres (220 ha) of land were added to the island by lava flows from Kīlauea volcano extending the coastline seaward. Several towns have been destroyed by Kīlauea lava flows in modern times: Kapoho (1960), Kalapana (1990), and Kaimū (1990). (Source: Wikipedia)

Volcanoes of Hawaii (Big Island)

About 8 million tourists visit the Hawaiian Islands each year, leaving behind a legacy of air, land and sea pollution.

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