Aloha Authentic: Age of the Hawaiian Islands

Aloha Authentic

HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways — either with driving, riding the bus or just walking down the street. But when was the last time you paid attention to their given names?  

Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the islands so that we can dig into their name, and in turn, learn something new.  

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This week, we brought our attention to the beginnings of Hawaiʻi.

In the ahupuaʻa of Makaʻehu, which lies in the moku of Kula on the island of Maui, stands a street named after the landmass we all live on in the middle of the ocean.  

We are talking about Moku Place.

In the Hawaiian language, the word “moku” has a few translations, including “ship,” “land district” or “island.”  Aside from the eight main islands, the Hawaiian island chain stretches across approximately 2,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean.

We are situated near a hot spot, a region deep within the Earth where magma travels to the surface to create a volcano. But it is believed that, in doing so, it is burning through the Pacific plate — an oceanic tectonic plate that is slowly moving toward the north and northwest.

It is because of this movement that the Hawaiian island chain is in the shape that it is in and why Hawai’i island — located at the southeast end of the chain — is the youngest. At less than 1 million years old, the island of Hawaiʻi continues to form with the most active volcanoes.

Maui and Lānaʻi are about 1.5 million years old. Molokaʻi is nearly 2 million years old, and Oʻahu is about 3 to 4 million years old. Kauaʻi is the oldest at approximately 5 million years old — assumed to be a little older than Niʻihau.

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Did you know? Now you do!

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