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ZingPath: Plate Tectonics and Earth's Dynamics

Plate Tectonics: The Hawaiian Islands

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Plate Tectonics: The Hawaiian Islands

Earth & Space Science

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The learners are engaged with different types of plate motions and discover which motion resulted in the formation of the Hawaiian Islands.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
  • Critically think about relationships between evidence and explanations.
  • Analyze data and develop a conclusion.

Everything You'll Have Covered

The Hawaiian Islands formed over many millions of years as the Pacific Plate moved over a stationary hot spot. Magma would spurt out of this stationary hot spot and eventually form an island. Approximately every 1,000,000 years, the hot spot under Hawai'i becomes active and makes another island. This island then moves as the Pacific Plate moves. About 3 million years ago, O'ahu was over the hot spot. Today, Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes on the island of Hawai'i are over the hot spot.

The islands to the southeast of O'ahu are younger than O'ahu. These islands are Moloka'i, Lana'i, Maui, and Hawai'i. The island of Hawai'i, also known as the Big Island, is the youngest island in the Hawaiian Island chain. It is still over the hot spot. Below the ocean, and to the southeast of the Big Island, is another volcano erupting over the hot spot. It is called Loihi. In about 6,000 years, if it continues to grow, it might form another island.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 25 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts earthquake, mountain belt, seamount, volcano
Course Earth & Space Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary 3D, Aleutian Islands, boundary