“Look! There’s the island! Which volcano do you think that is?” I wondered, noticing a mountain peak poking through the layer of clouds as I looked out of the small plane window. We were in the Hawaiian islands, headed towards the Big Island of Hawaii, where we would be staying right next to an active volcano. It was an amazing place. One minute, we could be in a tropical rain forest, and suddenly it would turn into a giant deserted field of black lava rock. Although some areas of the island have soft sandy beaches, others have dramatic sea cliffs where lava flows into the ocean.
When many people think of Hawaii, they think of a paradise, much like the Garden of Eden in the Bible. But, unlike the Garden of Eden, these islands are the result of catastrophic forces and a dramatic, fiery origin. Many aspects of Hawaii, like the lush plants, beautiful waterfalls, and incredible creatures point us back to the splendor and careful design of our Creator, God. However, the Hawaiian islands are there today because of the global, catastrophic flood, sent as God’s righteous judgement for the sin of mankind.
There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the geology of Hawaii. Although we know that the global flood was catastrophic, the Bible gives less information about how exactly it happened, scientifically speaking. This means that many of the details of the geology of the flood depend on which scientific model a person is using. There are several scientific models that try to explain how exactly the flood happened. Every good model will have it’s strong points and weak points. The more information we gather by doing science, the more we can narrow out some of those models, testing which ones are most likely to be true. Keeping that in mind, here’s what we can tell so far about how Hawaii formed.
Evidence shows that earth’s surface is made up of plates that move on top of the hot mantle. Lots of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, etc. form around the edges of these plates. But, Hawaii is in the middle of a big plate, far from the plate boundaries that cause most volcanoes. Hawaii is actually part of a chain of seamounts that meet with the Emperor Sea Mounts and reach all the way to the Aleutian islands of Alaska. The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and is volcanically active, while the other islands are extinct volcanoes and get progressively smaller, the farther northwest on the chain of seamounts. The current theory is that there is a plume of hot magma welling up in the mantle, creating a volcano on the outer plate of earth’s surface. As that plate moves, the hot spot stays in place beneath it, creating a new volcano right next to the previous one. The hot spot idea has a few problems and is being debated among scientists, but this model seems to be the best fit for Hawaii until we have more information.
This idea would also work well with the global flood. Although Earth’s plates move slowly today, they would have moved much faster in the past during, and for a short time after, the global flood. The chain of seamounts over the Hawaiian hot spot probably started forming some time towards the end of the flood, when the plates were moving quickly. The plates would have continued moving quickly for a little while after the flood, slowing down to the current speed of plate movement. Hawaii must have formed a short while after the flood.
Measuring from the seafloor to the peak Mauna Kea (the tallest volcano on the Big Island), Hawaii is 6.3 miles high, which is taller than Mount Everest, measuring from sea level to the peak. It’s a powerful, but normally quite active volcano. Although Hawaii is stunningly beautiful, it was formed as a fiery volcano from the aftermath of the flood – God’s judgement. In places like Hawaii, we can see the grace of God stunningly illustrated. Hawaii was definitely not part of God’s “very good” original creation. But, our gracious Creator took a messy situation – the flood of judgement – and turned it into something beautiful. No matter how much you’ve messed up, remember that God’s grace can turn your life into a new and beautiful creation, just like Hawaii.
© 2017 Sara J. Mikkelson
- Tilling, Robert. Heliker, Christina. And Swanson, Donald. Plate Tectonics and the Hawaiian Hot Spot. Republished from Eruptions of Hawaiian Volcanoes – Past, Present, and Future. U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 117. Retrieved 4-21-17 from
- Walker, Tas. The Hawaiian hot spot and the Bible. May 28, 2011. Feedback, 2011. Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 4-21-17.
- Snelling, Andrew. Hawaii’s Volcanic Origins—Instant Paradise. January 1, 2014; last featured October 20, 2015. Answers Magazine. January-March 2014. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 4-21-17 https://answersingenesis.org/geology/plate-tectonics/hawaiis-volcanic-origins-instant-paradise/