Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
USGS Pacific Coral Reefs Website
Landsat satellite image from NASA
The island of Hawaiʻi, known as the Big Island, is the largest in the Hawaiian Chain. Greater than twice the area of the remaining main eight Hawaiian Islands combined, Hawaiʻi encompasses 10,432 sq km (4028 sq mi). The island was formed from five major volcanoes. The volcano of Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on Earth, reaching nearly 9 km (5.5 mi) from the seafloor to the summit. Although shorter, Mauna Loa's massive size makes it the largest volcano in the world. Kīlauea, long thought to be part of Mauna Loa, is the only currently active subaerial volcano in the Hawaiian Island chain and is home to Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.
Live coral growth on the Big Island is typically limited to scattered aggregate corals on volcanic boulders and pavement. The USGS is working with the National Park Service on the Kona (west) coast of Hawaiʻi to evaluate the geologic resources at Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, and at Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau (City of Refuge) National Historical Park, including benthic habitat mapping of the nearshore coral ecosystem and nutrient flux from groundwater sources. Click on any of the documents below to learn more about these projects:
U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2005-1069
U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2005-1161
U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2008-1190
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5254
U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2008-1191
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5256
U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2008-1192
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5258
U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2007-1310
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5128
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5081
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1264
Other selected works
Gibbs, A.E., and Cochran, S.A., 2011, Seafloor morphology and coral habitat variability in a volcanic environment; Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park, Hawaiʻi, USA, in Harris, P.T., and Baker, E.K., eds., Seafloor geomorphology as a benthic habitat; GeoHab atlas of seafloor geomorphic features and benthic habitats, Elsevier [Elsevier Insights e-book series], p. 409-423.
Knee, K.L., Street, J.H., Grossman, E.E., Boehm, A.B., and Paytan, A., 2010, Nutrient inputs to the coastal ocean from submarine groundwater discharge in a groundwater-dominated system; relation to land use (Kona coast, Hawaii, U.S.A.): Limnology and Oceanography, v. 55, no. 3, p. 1105-1122, doi:10.4319/lo.2010.55.3.1105.
Street, J.H., Knee, K.L., Grossman, E.E., and Paytan, A., 2008, Submarine groundwater discharge and nutrient addition to the coastal zone and coral reefs of leeward Hawaiʻi: Marine Chemistry, v. 109, p. 355-376, doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2007.08.009.