GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Hawaiian volcanoes. Cutaway artwork of the geology of the Pacific islands of Hawaii. All the islands were formed as volcanoes due to the action of a stationary "hot spot", an upwelling plume of hot material (arrows) from the Earth's mantle (yellow/red). The hot spot creates a reservoir (round) of molten rock in the Earth's crust (brown). This bursts through the oceanic plate (grey) as an underwater volcano (this one is Lohi Seamount). Each island was formed this way, eventually rising out of the water. Continental drift moves the ocean plate (arrow) over the hotspot, allowing a succession of islands to form, grow and then become dormant. The largest and most recently formed Hawaiian island is Big Island.
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