Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Search Challenge (8/17/16): Pulling together information about the geography of Hawai'i

Now that I'm in Hawai'i... 

... I start to wonder about the geography of this island chain, this group of beautiful isles so far away from everything else.  

Hawai'i on Google Earth

Naturally, I start to wonder a few things. The Challenges this week might require pulling information together from more than one source.  Can you answer these Challenges three?  

1.  When thinking about the colonization of Hawai'i, I kept reading that these islands are the "most remote" island chain in the world.  That is, they're relatively farther away from any other major population center than anyplace else.  Is that true?   
2.  This might seem obvious, but maybe it's more subtle than you think:  How many islands ARE in the Hawaiian islands?  
3.  I know the waters around the island are deep--but HOW deep?  What's the deepest place within the Hawaiian archipelago?  

Let use know not only where you found this information, also also your chain of thought that led you to look in those place.  Did you need to learn any special terms in the process?  

Search on!  


  1. St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean felt very remote to me when the RMS found it.

  2. 1/2 Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    1. When thinking about the colonization of Hawai'i, I kept reading that these islands are the "most remote" island chain in the world.That is, they're relatively farther away from any other major population center than anyplace else. Is that true?

    Hawaii Facts and Trivia mentions: Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

    [the most isolated population center on the face of the earth] Not sure this query works because maybe has bias on it.

    Hawaii’s isolation has made it an epicenter of scientific and environmental studies. It boasts the largest cluster of telescopes and observatories in the world thanks to its low levels of air and light pollution. And links to

    National Park Hawaii "Hawaiian plants and animals began to evolve over 70 million years ago in nearly complete isolation and over 90% of the native terrestrial flora and fauna in Hawai`i are found only in the Hawaiian islands. This level of endemism surpasses all other places on Earth— even the Galapagos Islands. Consequently, the Park is a fantastic laboratory for the study of biogeography and evolution within the Pacific Islands."

    A. Yes it is true.

    2. This might seem obvious, but maybe it's more subtle than you think: How many islands ARE in the Hawaiian islands?

    [islands Hawaii]

    The state of Hawaii officially recognizes only 137; 152 if we count islets, rocks, coral reefs and atolls mentions wikipedia article.

    [number of Hawaiian islands]
    Facts and trivia that answers Q1 an Q2 in part

    How many islands are in the whole Hawaiian Island chain?

    there is a grand total of 136 beautiful Hawaiian “islands”.

    [islands of Hawaii names]

    Hawaii is made up of more than 100 islands, but is best known for its eight main islands. Of these, only seven are inhabited.

    A: 8 main islands and 137 in total

    1. You know, I suspect this number is about right (but it counts as separate islands all of the shoals and small-island clusters in the NW). It would have been nice if that article would have mentioned HOW they got that number (of 137).

  3. (2/2)

    3. I know the waters around the island are deep--but HOW deep? What's the deepest place within the Hawaiian archipelago?

    [deepest Hawaiian place]

    Hawaii Ocean Channels

    Measuring the Greatest Ocean Depth; The Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench is the deepest known point in Earth's oceans (10,994 meters)

    Google suggested: [Hawaii ocean depth chart] also on Images

    *Define [bathymetric maps] A bathymetric chart is the submerged equivalent of an above-water topographic map. Bathymetric charts are designed to present accurate, measurable description and visual presentation of the submerged terrain.

    NOAA bathymertic maps

    [Hawaii bathymetry]

    Hawaii Mapping Research Group

    [bathymetry google maps] Lead to [General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans]

    The General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO

    [kaieiewaho channel depth]

    Updated Hawaiian Island Channel Swimmer List

    A: Within the islands "Kaieiewaho Channel" with 10,890 feet (3,319 m)

  4. Searched Google for Most remote island:

    Received hits on Tristan da Cunha. But Tristan da Cunha is 1,700 miles from South Africa... and I know Hawaii is over 2,000 miles from the mainland - I have flown that distance many times ;)

    Second search: tristan da cunha vs hawaii for most remote

    Received this hit: it appears that the there are many factors that relate to "remoteness" So, it depends on what criteria you use.

    Third search, how many islands are in Hawaii?

    Received a hit of - List of islands of Hawaii: Also appears to be subjective; 8 main islands, 137 State recognized islands and 152 islands (approximately)

    Additional search on number of islands, Total islands and atolls of Hawaiian archipelago:

    Received a hit from NOAA ( I assume they know what they are talking about ): NOAA definitely says 132 islands, atolls, reefs, shallow banks, shoals and seamounts. So again, what's your definition of island?

    Searched for deepest ocean in the Hawaiian archipelago:

    Received a hit at NOAA for a seafloor chart appears the ocean floor is over 3100 fathoms deep or 18,600 feet which is just off of the northeast coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, but if you take a strict "within the archipelago" one might say 1,500 fathoms (9,000 feet) at the Alenuihaha channel between Maui and the Big Island

    And it appears that we could debate all three questions, and depending on the exact definitions of each word, you could formulate many "correct" answers.

    As usual a fun exercise... can't wait to visit Hawaii again!

  5. [profundidad archipielago Hawaii]

    Results mention "Hot point"

    Cadena Montañosa Hawaii-Emperador

    Timelapse At 4:37 is our place from previous SRS!

    Hawaii hotspot One of the most well-known and heavily studied hotspots in the world...In 2003, fresh investigations of this irregularity led to the proposal of a mobile hotspot theory...

    [batimetria archipielago hawaii]

    Image shows lava flows

    Also, for Q3 about how deep? I thought using Google Earth. Sadly my lap can't run it anymore. I am sure we have possible answer there.

    Hope you enjoying trip, Dr. Russell!

  6. FWIW--Several years ago, planning for a trip to Hawaii, I read that the islands had been formed by volcanic action; that the further north an island was, the older, and more eroded, it was; that there are currently a couple of sea mounts in the line south of the existing island chain, and while they are still underwater, over the years they will be enlarged by volcanic action and eventually, one at a time, they will rise above the sea level.
    The most southerly an existing island is, the more volcanic action is still going on there.
    The image that stuck with me was that the islands were described as being like on a production line--over time, the line of them slowly moves north, as new islands are formed by volcanic action below the sea.

    1. Be sure to look at the part of my answer where I talk about the Darwin Point. As the islands are created (as they pass over the "hot spot," they travel northwest, and then are reabsorbed into the sea just NW of Kure.

  7. 1. To check the most remote location claim, I started by looking at a world map to find island chains. Contenders appear to be Kirimati (Kiribati), Pitcairn, Port-aux-Francais or Georgia(Sth Sandwich islands). Next I needed a definition of a major population centre. I thought that a good definition was more than the best estimate for the population of Hawaii( 1,431,603) according to US Census estimates I chose this figure to rule out other remote island chains closer to Hawaii-like Kiribati. Next I used a simple great circle calculator to check distances Pitcairn's closest population centre at 3062 km was the Cook Islands, but with a population of 10, 000- hardly major. The closest with a large population was Auckland at 5352 km. Comparing this with Hawaii- the closest major population centre was San Francisco at 3856 km. Pitcairn is more remote-so claim disproved without checking the others.
    2. Number of islands- I searched <> The first hit was a data book and searched for islands in their search box- they had an excel sheet Major and Minor Islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Reports 137 named islands (although 5 do not belong to the state of Hawaii). There are probably other non-named islands. Being a volcanic chain, I did a Google search on new Hawaiian islands to make sure that none were added since 2010. The next best prospect is Loihi seamount- but it is still 1 km deep. On the same data page from the Hawaii Data Book was the great circle distances as well- confirmed approximately the same distance to San Francisco at 3857 km
    3. Another definitional problem- what do you mean by Hawaii? Wikipedia indicates that the Hawaii chain stretches all the way to the Aleutians, so it is probably going to be the Aelutian trench. I thought it might be eaier to spot visually. Searched <> hoping to find a colour intensity map. Unfortunately, their interactive seafloor topography tool was a dead link. Tried to search for tool but came up with these kml files instead When I have time< i'll check them in Google Earth

    Main lesson learned- the easy problems are the hard ones because you need clear definitions