Is Hawaii Sinking? The Science Behind the Claims

A recent study has claimed that Hawaii is sinking, but is this really the case? We take a look at the science behind the claims to find out.

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In recent years, there has been much talk about whether or not Hawaii is sinking. The claims vary, but some say that the island of Hawaii is slowly sinking into the Pacific Ocean.

So, what is the science behind these claims? Is Hawaii really sinking?

There are a few things to consider when looking at this issue. First, it is important to understand that the Earth’s crust is made up of plates that are constantly moving. The movement of these plates can cause changes in landmass over time. For example, the island of Cyprus was once part of the African plate, but it is now part of the Eurasian plate.

Second, it is important to understand that not all parts of the Earth’s crust are equally stable. Some areas are more prone to shifting and moving than others. For example, the West Coast of North America is much more seismically active than the East Coast. This means that there is more potential for plates to move and for landmass to change in this area.

Third, it is important to understand that sea level rise is a real phenomenon that is happening all over the world. As sea levels rise, it can put additional pressure on coastal areas and can cause them to sink lower into the ocean.

So, what does all of this mean for Hawaii?

On its own, any one of these factors could potentially contribute to Hawaii sinking into the ocean over time. However, it is important to remember that these processes happen very slowly over long periods of time. In other words, Hawaii is not going to sink overnight!

Still, given all of these factors, it is possible that Hawaii could slowly sink into the ocean over time if nothing changes. However, it is also important to remember that there are many other factors at play here as well. For example, tectonic activity on the Big Island could potentially offset any subsidence that might occur due to sea level rise or other factors. Additionally, human activity can also impact these processes. For example, if we were to stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it could help slow down or even reverse sea level rise in some areas.

In conclusion, while it is possible that Hawaii could slowly sink into the ocean over time due to a variety of factors, it is by no means a certainty. There are many other factors at play here and humans have the ability to impact these processes in positive ways.

The Science

It’s no secret that sea levels are rising. Climate change is causing the world’s oceans to warm, and as they warm, they expand. That means that the same amount of water is taking up more space, and thus, sea levels are rising. But what does that have to do with Hawaii?

Plate Tectonics

Plate tectonics is the scientific study of the movement and behavior of the Earth’s rocky outermost layer. The Earth is made up of several large, flat pieces of rock called plates. These plates move around on the Earth’s surface and interact with each other in a variety of ways.

The theory of plate tectonics was first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912. He proposed that the Earth’s continents were once joined together in a large landmass that he called Pangaea. Over time, Pangaea broke apart and the continents moved to their current locations.

The theory of plate tectonics is supported by a large body of evidence, including:
-The fit of the continents – If you put all the continents together like a jigsaw puzzle, they fit together perfectly.
-Mountain ranges – Mountains are formed when two plates collide.
-Fossils – Fossils of the same species have been found on different continents. This is because those continents were once joined together.
-Glacial deposits – Glacial deposits are found in places that were once covered by glaciers, like Antarctica. These deposits could only have been deposited by moving glaciers.


Erosion is the scientific term used to describe the wearing away of land by forces such as water, wind, ice or gravity. Although erosion can happen natural, human-caused erosion is often accelerated by activities such as logging, mining, farming and urbanization.

In Hawaii, the most common type of erosion is caused by rainfall. When it rains, water runs off of rooftops and pavement and into streams and rivers. This runoff can pick up things like leaves, branches, dirt and trash along the way. As it flows downstream, this debris can clog drainage systems and cause flooding. The force of the water can also damage infrastructure and property.

Leading up to 2018, Hawaii had experienced several years of unusually high rainfall. In some areas of the state, rainfall was more than double the average amount. This increased runoff led to increased flooding and erosion. In April 2018, a severe rainstorm caused widespread flooding on Oahu. The flooding damaged homes, businesses and roadways. It also resulted in sinkholes forming in yards and parks across the island.

While human-caused erosion is often a problem in Hawaii, it’s important to note that the state is also home to a lot of natural eroded coastline. In fact, Hawaii’s iconic beaches are largely made up of eroded volcanic sands.

The Claims

There have been a lot of claims lately that Hawaii is sinking into the ocean. Let’s take a look at the science behind the claims.

Sea Level Rise

Since the early 1800s, the global average sea level has risen by about eight inches. Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers around the world, and the expansion of seawater as it warms.

Over the past century, melting glaciers have contributed approximately half of the eight-inch rise in global sea level, with thermal expansion of seawater accounting for the rest. The rates of both warming and resulting sea level rise have accelerated in recent decades. If current trends continue, global sea level is likely to rise another one to four feet by 2100.

There is evidence that some coastal areas are experiencing more rapid rates of relative sea level rise (the combined effects of changes in absolute sea level and land movement). Land can sink, or subside, as a result of geologic processes or human activities such as ground water withdrawal or compaction from development. Relative sea levelrise therefore varies from place to place.

Over geological time scales, changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun alter the amount of sunlight our planet receives, which can lead to long-term warming or cooling periods. Currently, we are in an interval of relatively high solar insolation (energy received from the sun), which began around 10,000 years ago and contributed to melting much of Earth’s glacial ice.

The most recent ice age peaked 20,000 years ago when extensive ice sheets covered large parts of North America, Europe and Asia. Since then, global temperatures have risen steadily, melting most of this glacial ice. Today’s sea levels are thus highest they have been in at least 125,000 years and possibly longer.


Sinkholes are one of the most common types of landforms on Earth. They can be found in every U.S. state and on every continent, including Antarctica. Sinkholes occur when bedrock is worn away by water or other forces, causing the ground above to collapse.

There are two main types of sinkholes: cover-collapse sinkholes and cover-subsidence sinkholes. Cover-collapse sinkholes form when bedrock is slowly eroded by water or other forces, causing the ground above to collapse. Cover-subsidence sinkholes form when bedrock is rapidly eroded by water or other forces, causing the ground above to subside.

Hawaii is particularly vulnerable to sinkholes because it is composed of many different types of rock, including lava flows, which are easily eroded by water. In addition, Hawaii has a high water table, which means that there is a lot of water underground that can cause sinkholes to form.

There have been several reports of sinkholes forming in Hawaii in recent years, but it is unclear if this is due to an increase in sinkhole activity or simply increased reporting. In any case, scientists believe that sinkholes will become more common in Hawaii as the climate changes and sea levels rise.

The Conclusion

In conclusion, there is evidence to suggest that Hawaii is slowly sinking. However, the rate of sinking is not currently posing a threat to the island chain. The rate of sea level rise, on the other hand, is increasing and could potentially pose a serious threat to Hawaii in the future.

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