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USGS Geology in the Parks

Green Sand Beach, Hawai'i

The Beach

Green sand beach

The architecture of the cinder cone, as can be seen in the layers of erosion-resistent cliff-formers, represents individual ash and cinder eruption events. When the volcano erupts, the ashes are tossed into the air and fall on the slopes of the volcano. Sometimes these ashes and cinders are still hot enough to meld together, forming cohesive layers which are more difficult for the ocean to erode.

From this view it is possible to not only see the internal structure of the cinder cone, but also the profile of the beach. This is not a wide, barely sloping expanse of sand, but a narrow, steep slope. The same wave energy that causes the olivines to be left behind shapes the beach into a steep slope.


The steep slope...

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