According to the researchers’ estimates, the net effect is that Oahu will continue to grow for as long as 1.5 million years. Beyond that, the force of groundwater will eventually triumph and the island will begin its descent to a low-lying topography.
Undergraduate student Brian Selck co-authored the study, which appears in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. Unfortunately for him, he joined the project only after the field work in Hawaii took place.
Instead, Selck performed the mineralogical analysis of soil samples in the lab back in Provo. The island’s volcanic soil contained at least one surprise in weathered rock called saprolites.
“The main thing that surprised me on the way was the appearance of a large amount of quartz in a saprolite taken from a 1-meter depth,” Selck said.
After he graduates from BYU, Selck will pursue a career in hydrogeology. BYU geology professor David Tingey joins Nelson and Selck as a co-author on the new study