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Waimea Canyon
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Waimea Canyon, Kaua
Waimea Canyon
Hawaiian Islands
 
Earth's Natural Wonders in Australia & Oceania
 
Length of Waimea Canyon: 10 miles (16 km)
Width of canyon: 1 mile (1.6 km)
Depth of Canyon: 3,600 feet (1,097 m)
Waimea Canyon [1]
   
   
   
Waimea Canyon from Cliff Trail [2]
 
Waimea Canyon from Cliff Trail
Carved over thousands of years from rivers and floods that flowed from the summit of Mount Waialeale, Waimea is the largest canyon in the pacific. Mark Twain called it "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific" and although not as big, just as spectacular. The canyon is situated on Kauai Island and protected within the boundaries of Koke'e State park. It was once part of an ancient volcano, but part of its flank collapsed thus enabling the Waimea River to cut through a weakness in the layers of the volcanic rock.[4]
   
 

 

Geologically the canyon is carved into the tholeiitic and post-shield alkalic lavas of the canyon basalt. The lavas of the canyon provide evidence for massive faulting and collapse in the early history of the island. The west side of the canyon is all thin, west-dipping lavas of the Napali Member, while the east side is very thick, flat-lying lavas of the Olokele and Makaweli Members. The two sides are separated by an enormous fault along which a large part of the island moved downwards in a big collapse.


The canyon has a unique geologic history—it was formed not only by the steady process of erosion, but also by a catastrophic collapse of the volcano that created Kaua'i.

Like the other Hawaiian islands, Kaua'i is the top of an enormous volcano rising from the ocean floor. With lava flows dated to about 5 million years ago, Kauaii is the oldest of the large Hawaiian islands. Roughly 4 million years ago, while Kaua?i was still erupting almost continuously, a portion of the island collapsed. This collapse formed a depression, which then filled with lava flows.

In the time since, rainwater from the slopes of Mount Wai'ale'ale have eroded Waimea Canyon along one edge of the collapse. The cliffs on the west side of the canyon are composed of thin lava flows that ran down the surface of the Kaua'i volcano. On the other side of the canyon, the cliff walls are built from thick lava flows that pooled in the depression. Over time, the exposed basalt has weathered from its original black to bright red.

Waimea Canyon State Park encompasses 1,866 acres (7.5 km²) and is a popular tourist attraction on the island. It provides a wilderness area with numerous hiking trails. It can be accessed from Waimea on Hawai?i state road 550, which is 18 miles long and leads up to Koke'e State Park. The island of Niihau, only a short distance west of Kauai at that point, can be clearly seen from the highway.[5]

Waimea Canyon "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" and a few of the visible waterfalls of the canyon.

mellynelly
July 31, 2006

Waimea Canyon Map


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References
 
1. Flickr-Waimea Canyon Creative Commons Attribution License- retrieved 6/02/2009
2. Flickr-Waimea CanyonCreative Commons Attribution License- retrieved 6/03/2009
3. Hawaiian Web-retrieved 6/06/2009
4. 1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005-p. 794- Michael Bright-retrieved 6/2/2009
5. Wikipedia-Waimea Canyonretrieved 6/06-2009
 
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