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Emplacement mechanisms of the South Kona slide complex, Hawaii Island: sampling and observations by remotely operated vehicle Kaiko


Emplacement of a giant submarine slide complex, offshore of South Kona, Hawaii Island, was investigated in 2001 by visual observation and in-situ sampling on the bench scarp and a megablock, during two dives utilizing the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Kaiko and its mother ship R/V Kairei. Topography of the bench scarp and megablocks were defined in 3-D perspective, using high-resolution digital bathymetric data acquired during the cruise. Compositions of 34 rock samples provide constraints on the landslide source regions and emplacement mechanisms. The bench scarp consists mainly of highly fractured, vesiculated, and oxidized a’a lavas that slumped from the subaerial flank of ancestral Mauna Loa. The megablock contains three units: block facies, matrix facies, and draped sediment. The block facies contains hyaloclastite interbedded with massive lava, which slid from the shallow submarine flank of ancestral Mauna Loa, as indicated by glassy groundmass of the hyaloclastite, low oxidation state, and low sulfur content. The matrix facies, which directly overlies the block facies and is similar to a lahar deposit, is thought to have been deposited from the water column immediately after the South Kona slide event. The draped sediment is a thin high-density turbidite layer that may be a distal facies of the Alika-2 debris-avalanche deposit; its composition overlaps with rocks from subaerial Mauna Loa. The deposits generated by the South Kona slide vary from debris avalanche deposit to turbidite. Spatial distribution of the deposits is consistent with deposits related to large landslides adjacent to other Hawaiian volcanoes and the Canary Islands.

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We thank JAMSTEC and E. Takahashi (Chief Scientist) for inviting us to participate in the joint Japan – US Hawaii program, the captain and crew of R/V Kairei and ROV Kaiko for their hard work, and the scientific team for shipboard assistance and subsequent discussion. The bulk-rock chemical analyses and density measurements were made at Kumamoto University with the able assistance of S. Yoshida, S. Shirose and Y. Fukui. C. Siebe, S. Day and J. Stix provided critical and constructive comments that significantly improved the paper.

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Correspondence to Hisayoshi Yokose.

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Yokose, H., Lipman, P.W. Emplacement mechanisms of the South Kona slide complex, Hawaii Island: sampling and observations by remotely operated vehicle Kaiko. Bull Volcanol 66, 569–584 (2004).

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  • South Kona slide
  • Mauna Loa
  • Hawaii Island
  • Submarine slide
  • Hyaloclastite
  • Picrite
  • A’a lava