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Would pre-Cook Hawaiians have been able to extract any usable metals from the land? (This goes along with questions about whether most pre-Western cultures were hampered by their environment-not their culture or race.)
Question Date: 2019-03-16
Answer 1:

Hawaii is a pretty recent landmass, geologically speaking. Geologic processes that concentrate metals have not had enough time to do their job, so there are no concentrated metal deposits on the Hawaiian islands. Although there are metals present in the minerals that make up the rocks, without a concentrating process, these metal atoms are not economically extractable, and when they are part of a mineral formula, they don’t even look like metals. So pre-Cook Hawaiians would not have seen any metals to extract. Mining there is mainly quarries that mine crushed rock to use for roadbeds.

Answer 2:

From my viewpoint and specifically in the case of Hawaii, there simply are no easily mineable metals because of the geologic history of the islands. Now, whether this is a definitive test "pre-Western cultures were hampered by their environment" is debatable, especially since other "pre-western" cultures on larger continents did have the geologic circumstances that allowed them to have access to minerals.

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