Photograph of the erupting lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea's summit in Hawaii on September 7, 2016.

Hawaii Earth Science Quick Facts

Page snapshot: Hawaii State Geologic MapFossil; Rock; Mineral; GemHighest and Lowest Elevations; Places to Visit; and Additional Resources.

Image above: Eruption of lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea on September 7, 2016. Image by the USGS (public domain). Original caption: "On Wednesday evening (September 7), the lava lake at Kīlauea's summit reached a high level, about 8 m (26 feet) below the floor of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. This panorama shows the former Halema‘uma‘u Overlook (closed since 2008 due to volcanic hazards) at the far left. Jaggar Museum, visible on the skyline in the upper right part of the photo, is a popular destination in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for viewing the lava lake activity and spattering lake surface."

Geologic Map of Hawai‘i

Geologic map of Hawaii.

Geologic map of Hawai‘i showing maximum ages of mappable units. Image by Jonathan R. Hendricks for the [email protected] project developed using QGIS and USGS data (public domain) from Fenneman and Johnson (1946) and Horton et al. (2017).

Hawai‘i State Fossil: None

Hawai‘i does not have an official state fossil. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments.


Learn more about the fossils of Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i State Rock: None

Hawai‘i does not have an official state rock. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments below.


Learn more about the rocks of Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i State Mineral: None

Hawai‘i does not have an official state mineral. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments below.


Learn more about the minerals of Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i State Gem: Black Coral

Hawai‘i's official state "gem" is actually a type of living coral. Learn more here.


Underwater photograph of a living colony of black coral in Hawaii.

Colony of living black coral in Hawaii. Original caption: "Black coral at 210 ft in the Au'au Channel, off Maui, Hawaii. Image courtesy of Anthony Montgomery, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources." Image from the NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery.

Hawai‘i's Highest and Lowest Elevations

Topographic map of Hawaii.

Topographic map of Hawaii. Data from: Farr, T. G. et al., 2007, The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, Rev. Geophys., 45, RG2004, doi:10.1029/2005RG000183. (Also available online at http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/SRTM_paper.pdf). Image by Jonathan R. Hendricks for the [email protected] project.


Highest Elevation: Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea, a dormant shield volcano on the island of Hawai‘i, is the state’s highest point at 4207 meters (13,803 feet) above sea level. A product of hot spot volcanism, much of this volcano’s bulk is below sea level—when measured from the ocean floor, its total height is actually 10,100 meters (33,100 feet).


Photo of the summit trail on Mauna Kea. The photo shows a brown, barren, dry hill with a trail zigzagging up the nearest side.

The summit trail on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i Island. Photo by Robert Linsdell (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, image resized).


Lowest Elevation: Coastline

The lowest points in Hawai‘i are found at sea level along its coastlines, where the shoreline meets the Pacific Ocean.


Photograph of Hanauma Bay and Koko Crater, Oahu. The photo shows Haunauma Bay, a partially submerged crater with a partial circular rim. One side of the crater is open to the ocean and the center of the crater is flooded with seawater. Koko Crater stands behind the bay and is a small hill with a rim and central depression. Weathered hills occur in the background, and neighborhoods have been built at the bases of both craters.

Volcanic craters formed by rejuvenated volcanism on O'ahu, including Hanauma Bay (foreground) and Koko Crater (immediately behind Hanauma Bay). Photo "Hanuama Bay and Koko Crater Hawaii Kai" by Eric Tessmer (flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, image cropped and resized).


Learn more about the topography of Hawaii

Places to Visit


Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai'i Island.


Visit website
Photograph of a lava lake in Halema'uma'u crater, Kilauea caldera. The photos shows a round lava lake in a steep-sloped pit. The surface of the lake is a dull black color and partially cut by bright orange cracks formed by molten lava.

Lava lake, Halema'uma'u crater, Kīlauea volcano summit caldera, Hawai'i Island, November 2, 2021. Source: Julie M. Chang, USGS (public domain).


Summit of Mauna Kea

Hawai'i Island.


Visit website
Photograph of the USGS marker that indicates the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) marker that indicates the summit point of Mauna Kea.

Additional resources


Learn more about the Earth science of Hawai'i.


Explore
Simple map of the Hawaiian Islands.

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