Reflections: Island time

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By Thomas W. Ivines

When I was a child I was curious about the mysteries of our planet. I still am to this day.

Soon I will be going to the Hawaiian Islands and have been doing a little research in preparation. This will be especially helpful when I fly above, but low over them in a small airplane. I have reserved a Cessna like mine for when I arrive.

The beginnings of the Hawaiian island chain are intriguing. They started in one of the most remote places on earth from the movement of tectonic plates deep below the Pacific Ocean over 70 million years ago.

Many of the islands have already come and gone, crushed beneath their own weight and washed away by rain and wind erosion. The largest of the formed islands, Kure, still exists today but is now just a simple reminder and nothing more than a mere atoll.

Many Hawaiian islands caved in and slipped beneath the sea shortly after forming. The fragile volcanic rock they were comprised of honeycombed with holes and pockets could not support their own weight.

What we call the Hawaiian islands is simply the latest creation of the island making machine. As we know it, Kaui is the oldest of the current eight islands. We better know Oahu because of its popular landmarks like Honolulu and Waikiki, Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head.

Kaui is in its highlight days with no volcanic activity. From here the island will eventually erode away and slip back into the sea. Kauai will be one of the first islands in modern times to disappear.

Ironically, all Hawaiian islands will be nothing more than a footnote in earth's turbulent history, but not before man has carved his indelible mark in them. Because of human intervention, the Hawaiian Islands are at least for now, forever changed. The majority of the fauna and even the inhabitants are non-native, introduced by man alone.

Maui is the in-between island, young enough to show its dynamic volcanic history yet old enough for Mother Nature to have carved gentle lines of character into its face. Maui is undoubtedly the richest island in nature of all the Hawaiian island chain.

The newest island of course is the largest called Hawaii. It is still growing by many acres a year. But it, too, like the rest of the Hawaiian island chain, will eventually cave in on itself and erode away back beneath the sea.

Fortunately, for us, we are just a wink in time and have come to know the islands as paradise. There is no other place on earth quite like the Hawaiian islands, and I plan on finding out about them first hand for myself.

There is more I could say now about what I have learned in preparation to visit the Hawaiian islands, but I will reserve that with the experiences I will have learned from being there, when I return. Until then, like I have been doing, you can explore the Hawaiian islands from the public library nearest you.