Active Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui is the second largest volcano in the Hawaiian Island chain. Prominently incised in Haleakala's slopes are four large (great) valleys. Haleakala Crater, a prominent summit depression, formed by coalescence of two of the great valleys. The great valleys and summit crater have long been attributed solely to fluvial erosion, but two significant enigmas exist in the theory. First, the great valleys of upper Keanae/Koolau Gap, Haleakala Crater, and Kaupo Gap are located in areas of relatively low annual rainfall. Second, the axes of some valley segments are oblique for long distances across the volcanic slopes. This study tested the prevailing erosional theory by reconstructing the volcano's topography just prior to valley incision. The reconstruction produces a belt along the volcano's east rift zone with a morphology that is inconsistent with volcanic aggradation alone, but it is readily explained if it is assumed the surface was displaced along scarps formed by a giant landslide on Haleakala's northeastern flank. Although the landslide head location is well defined, topographic evidence is lacking for the toe and lateral margins. Consequently, the slope failure is interpreted as a sackung-style landslide with a zone of deep-seated distributed shear and broad surface warping downslope of the failure head. Maximum downslope displacement was likely in the range of 400–800 m. Capture of runoff at the headscarps formed atypically large streams that carved Haleakala's great valleys and explains their existence in low-rainfall areas and their slope-oblique orientations. Sackung-style landslides may be more prevalent on Hawaiian volcanoes than previously recognized.

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