Shop Windows to the Universe

Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
The topography of the Hawaiian Islands is shown in 3-D.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of Paul Johnson, University of Hawaii

Scientists Locate Deep Origins of "Hawaiian Hotspot"
News story originally written on December 3, 2009

Scientists are still trying to learn how the volcanic Hawaiian Islands formed. One theory is that they are made by upwelling plumes of lava from the mantle inside the Earth.

The scientists used a large network of sea-floor seismometers to test this theory. The seismometers were used to record the timing of seismic shear waves from large earthquakes (magnitudes greater than 5.5) around the world. This information was used to determine whether seismic waves travel more slowly through hot rock as they pass beneath Hawaii.

Based on the data they gathered, the scientists were able to construct a 3-dimensional image of the Hawaiian mantle. There is a strong case for the existence of a deep mantle plume and this can tell us more about not only Hawaii, but also more about what the inner-core of the Earth is made up of.

Last modified February 26, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What Is an Earthquake?

The expression “on solid ground” is often used to describe something as stable. Usually the solid ground underfoot seems very stable. But sometimes it is not. "The ground seemed to twist under us like...more

Triggers of Volcanic Eruptions in Oregon's Mount Hood Investigated

Scientists have learned that Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, has erupted in the past due to the mixing of two different types of magma. "The data will help give us a better road map to what a future...more

Oldest Earth Mantle Reservoir Discovered

The Earth's mantle is a rocky, solid shell that is between the Earth's crust and the outer core, and makes up about 84 percent of the Earth's volume. The mantle is made up of many distinct portions or...more

It’s Not Your Fault – A Typical Fault, Geologically Speaking, That Is

Some geologic faults that appear strong and stable, slip and slide like weak faults, causing earthquakes. Scientists have been looking at one of these faults in a new way to figure out why. In theory,...more

Lower Solar Activity Linked to Changes in Sun's Conveyor Belt

The sun goes through cycles that last approximately 11 years. These solar cycle include phases with more magnetic activity, sunspots, and solar flares. They also include phases with less activity. The...more

Growth Spurt in Tree Rings Prompts Questions About Climate Change

Studying tree rings doesn't only tell us the age of that tree. Tree rings also show what climate was like for each year of a tree's life, which means they can tell us about climates of the past and about...more

Did Life First Develop in a Mica Sandwich at the Bottom of a Primordial Sea?

Earth's first life form may have developed between the layers of a chunk of mica sitting like a multilayered sandwich in primordial waters, according to a new hypothesis. The mica hypothesis, which was...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF