- from Hawaii
How is an island born? Super-hot lava (melted rock) squeezes through cracks in the ocean floor. It hits water and starts to cool and harden.
Over hundreds of thousands of years, more lava pours out and cools. Slowly, an underwater mountain grows. One day, the mountain pokes out of the sea.
The volcano keeps erupting. The lava keeps flowing, and maybe it mixes with lava from a nearby volcano. The island grows. This is how each of the 132 Hawaiian islands was born. The oldest islands are at the northwest end of the chain. The youngest island, Hawai`i, at the far southeast end of the chain, still has two active volcanoes. They are called Mauna Loa and Kilauea. And more islands will be born. South of Hawai`i, a new island is forming. It is still several thousand feet below sea level. Scientists say it will emerge in about 30,000 years. It already has a name – Loihi.
The islands came out of the sea, but that is only half the story. How did they get so green and lush, and where did the plants and animals come from? What happened to the native plants and animals when humans arrived?