How Old are the Hawaiian Islands?

(system) #1

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Phil) #2

I think first hand research is in order. My wife feels a visit to the islands is necessary to properly evaluate the data presented.
Seriously, thanks for a well thought out and presented article. The Hawaiian Islands are certainly one of the strongest and most obvious testimonies to the untrained eye of an old earth. I have been to several of the islands, and it is obvious how the erosion patterns change, and you go from old collapsed volcanic craters on Oahu to the more recent but dormant Haleakala on Maui to the active volcano making new land on the Big Island.

(James McKay) #4

One important point worth making here is the correlation between radiometric age and distance from the hotspot, and also how it lines up precisely with rates of continental drift measured directly with high-precision GPS readings.

The only young-earth attempts to explain this that I’ve seen hand-wave it as “both making the same assumptions of uniformitarianism,” but that argument simply doesn’t make sense. Any non-uniformitarian model would have to have nuclear decay rates accelerated by a factor of many millions in complete lock-step with continental drift. If there were any lag between accelerated nuclear decay and catastrophic plate tectonics, the correlations would break down. If they weren’t linear, the correlations would break down.

Then when you introduce other things such as erosion, coral growth and sedimentation rates, that introduces a whole raft of other things they have to explain – how could these have increased in complete lock-step with each other as well?

(Phil) #5

Good reminder James, that multiple independent physical ways of dating deep time are in total agreement with each other. I have not really looked much at the biologic evidence, but as the islands are geographically isolated, I am sure the later biology is interesting, and consistent with what you would expect.


This is one of the more impressive examples of independent lines of evidence matching up with one another. Borrowing from this webstie

That is radiometric data from 1987, and the best fit line has an average speed of 8.6 cm/yr (+/- 0.2 cm) for the Pacific plate. This data was gathered well before the GPS systems came online. You can then go to the UNAVCO GPS velocity viewer and find the GPS measured velocity for the two Hawaiian GPS stations which are 88.00 and 88.33 mm/yr which is 8.8 cm/yr, within the analytical error of the estimate based on radiometric dating. The Hawaiian data is in the Philippine Sea option, check the option for station labels, zoom in on the Hawaiian islands, and then click on the marker for the two Hawaiian stations, if you want to check out the GPS data for yourself.

(Steve Schaffner) #7

Yeah, Hawaiian biology is pretty cool. No native land reptiles or amphibians, one native species of mammal (points for guessing what kind of mammal could make it there), a bunch of native bird species, many of them (the honeycreepers) the result of a recent, spectacular adaptive radiation from a single species of finch. And thousands of species of fruit fly.