“Uluhina then was called upon,
The navel of the little one was cut,
The afterbirth of the child that was thrown
Into the folds of the rolling surf;
The froth of the heaving sea,
Then was found the loin cloth for the child.
Molokini the island
Is the navel string,
The island is a navel string.” (Fornander)
When Walinuu gave birth to Kahoolawe, Uluhina was called upon to come and cut the navel of the child Kahoolawe, and when he came and had cut the navel he took the placenta and girt it on as a loin cloth.
He then threw it into the sea and Molokini arose formed from the afterbirth of Kahoolawe and the loin cloth of Uluhina, the very name Molokini being a contraction of the words malo and Uluhina. (Fornander)
Molokini erupted about 230,000 years ago (90,000+/-;) it’s a tiny, crescent-shaped island in the ‘Alalakeiki Channel, 3-miles offshore of Haleakala volcano, East Maui.
The volcanic cone rises about 500-feet from the submarine flank of Haleakala to a summit of only 162-feet above sea level. The cone is capped by a 1770-foot crater, although the northern rim is below sea level and the crater is flooded by the sea.
Molokini is similar to cinder cones elsewhere along the southwest rift zone, except that it erupted through water. When magma erupts explosively in shallow water, the liquid water heats, expands rapidly, and changes to steam, adding to the eruptive force.
The extra force shatters the extruded lava, which exposes more hot material–and hence more steam and more force as the eruption grows. Near-shore eruptions are some of the most dangerous that Hawaiian volcanoes can produce.
Shallow marine eruptions have two consequences for the appearance of the resulting cone. The first is grain size (marine eruptions leads to finer-grained deposits;) the second is the abundance of volcanic glass (because the lava fragments are quickly cooled by water before crystals can form.)
Molokini deposits are basanite, a type of basalt with fairly low amounts of silicon and high concentrations of sodium and potassium. (USGS)
The shallow inner cove is the crater’s submerged floor. Black coral was once found in abundance in the deeper waters around Molokini, but was harvested extensively. (Harvesting is now restricted, and small colonies can be found on the islet’s back wall.)
There is no sand beach on Molokini. The cove area slopes off from the shoreline to a depth of about 100 feet before dropping off. The bottom consists of sand patches, coral and basaltic boulders
A shallow reef in less than thirty feet of water extends from the shoreline northward at the islet’s northwestern point. It is a very popular snorkeling area with tour boats packing people in.
It is part of a Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD.) The diversity of fishes and other marine life within the MLCD is among the most impressive in the state. Even humpback whales have been known to enter the cove. (DLNR-DAR)
Molokini was part of prior military training; in 2006 & 2007, a 250-pound bomb, a 105mm projectile and a 5-inch rocket were found during surface surveys by the Navy.