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Historic Littoral Cones in Hawaii

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Title:Historic Littoral Cones in Hawaii
Authors:Moore, James G.
Ault, Wayne U.
Date Issued:Jan 1965
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Moore JG, Ault WU. 1965. Historic littoral cones in Hawaii. Pac Sci 19(1): 3-11.
Abstract:Littoral cones are formed by steam explosions resulting when lava
flows enter the sea. Of about 50 littoral cones on the shores of Mauna Loa and
Kilauea on the island of Hawaii, three were formed in historic time: 1840, 1868,
and 1919. Five new chemical analyses of the glassy ash of the cones and of the
feeding lava show that there is no chemical interchange between molten lava and
sea water during the brief period they are in contact. The littoral cone ash contains
a lower Fe2O3 / (Fe203 + FeO) ratio than does its feeding lava because drastic
chilling reduces the amount of oxidation.
A large volume of lava entering the sea (probably more than 50 million cubic
yards) is required to produce a littoral cone. All the historic littoral cones were fed
by aa flows. The turbulent character of these flows and the included cooler, solid
material allows ingress of sea water to the interior of the flow where it vaporizes
and explodes. The cooler, more brittle lava of the aa flows tend to fragment and
shatter more readily upon contact with water than does lava of pahoehoe flows.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 19, Number 1, 1965

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