Formed by volcanoes

All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by volcanoes arising from the sea floor through a vent described in geological theory as a hotspot. The theory maintains that as the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves in a northwesterly direction, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. This explains why only volcanoes on the southern half of the Island of Hawaii are presently active.

The last volcanic eruption outside the Island of Hawaii happened at Haleakala on Maui in the late 18th century. The newest volcano to form is Loihi, deep below the waters off the southern coast of the Island of Hawaii.

The islands are the farthest removed from any other body of land in the world. The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the wide range of environments to be found on high islands located in and near the tropics, has resulted in a vast array of endemic flora and fauna, with a considerable number found exclusively in Hawaii or the surrounding ocean. Because of the islands’ volcanic formation, native life before human activity is said to have arrived by the “3 W’s”: wind, waves, and wings. The volcanic activity and subsequent erosion created impressive geological features.

Hawaii is notable for rainfall: Mount Waialeale, on the island of Kauai, has the second highest average annual rainfall on earth: about 460 inches (11.7 m). The Big Island of Hawaii is notable as the world’s fifth highest island. If the height of the island is measured from its base, deep in the ocean, to its snow-clad peak on Mauna Kea, it can be considered one of the tallest mountains in the world.

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