Submarine-flank deposits of Hawaiian volcanoes are widely recognized to have formed largely by gravitationally driven volcano spreading and associated landsliding. Observations from submersibles show that prominent benches at middepths on flanks of Mauna Loa and Kīlauea consist of volcaniclastic debris derived by landsliding from nearby shallow submarine and subaerial flanks of the same edifice. Massive slide breccias from the mature subaerial tholeiitic shield of Mauna Loa underlie the frontal scarp of its South Kona bench. In contrast, coarse volcaniclastic sediments derived largely from submarine-erupted preshield alkalic and transitional basalts of ancestral Kīlauea underlie its Hilina bench. Both midslope benches record the same general processes of slope failure, followed by modest compression during continued volcano spreading, even though they record development during different stages of edifice growth. The dive results suggest that volcaniclastic rocks at the north end of the Kona bench, interpreted by others as distal sediments from older volcanoes that were offscraped, uplifted, and accreted to the island by far-traveled thrusts, alternatively are a largely coherent stratigraphic assemblage deposited in a basin behind the South Kona bench.

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