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Learn about Hawaiian Volcanoes!

Volcanism and Active Geology of the island of Hawai'i (Field-based course)

GEOS 293/393
Wintermester 2016
2 Credits
January 3-12, beginning in Hilo, Hawaii, ending in Kona

Instructors: Jeff Freymueller

jfreymueller -at- alaska.edu

Pavel Izbekov


Elisabeth Nadin

enadin -at- alaska.edu

Last Updated: October 29, 2015

A field-based course introducing students to the volcanism and active geology of the island of Hawai'i, and by extension, other oceanic islands. Topics include physical features of the volcanoes, plate tectonics and the origin of volcanism, and the development and "life cycle" of oceanic islands. The course has a fee of $1350, which includes food and lodging in the field along with local transportation, but does not include your airfare to Hilo, Hawai'i. Students must also register and pay for two credits of tuition and any other applicable fees.

There is no substitute for field-based instruction in the geosciences. Students can learn a tremendous amount even from just a few days in the field, seeing features and processes with their own eyes, and this results not only in greater knowledge and insights but also enhanced enthusiasm and motivation. Our local climate handicaps us in our field-based offerings, but a winter field course in Hawai'i gets around that limitation. There is probably no better place in the world to introduce students to the basic physical features of volcanoes than the island of Hawai'i, with its active Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, and we can also make basic features of plate tectonics and a physical understanding of plate tectonics, erosion, the age and development of the ocean basins, and a host of other problems come to life vividly in this setting.

The volcanoes of the Big Island of Hawaii are one of the premier examples of active hotspot volcanism in the world, and are by far the most accessible. A wide variety of volcanic and geologic features are easily accessible, and do not require long drives to reach. A relatively short field trip can cover a wide range of topics, and will provide a memorable and highly educational experience for the students. Cooperation with the Hawaii Volcano Observatory will allow students to see volcanic monitoring in action and learn about the public safety aspects of that task; depending on eruption conditions, this may also allow us to see some features in areas closed to the general public.

The course is offered at both the 200-level and the 300-level. Students at the 300-level will have additional responsibilities for peer instruction during projects and presentations. Students enrolled in GEOS 393 will be expected to read and discuss geological literature and tutor students enrolled in GEOS 293 in field and computer methods necessary for completion of team projects.

Prerequisites (293)
GEOS 101 or GEOS 120 or GE 261, or permission of instructor.
For non-UAF students, this translates to "you have taken a geology course."

Prerequisites (393)
GEOS 222 or GEOS 225 or any 300-level GEOS course, or permission of instructor
For non-UAF students, this translates to (1) an introductory geology course, (2) Historical geology, (3) Mineralogy or a similar minerals and rocks course, and (4) an upper division course, or field methods, or mapping/GIS.

If you are not a UAF student, you can find the course descriptions for these prerequisites at the UAF catalog. If you have questions about whether courses at another university will satsify the pre-requisites, then contact the instructors.

You must apply to the instructors if you want to take this course. Please contact us if you are interested and we will send you the application form!

Registration for this field course opens on November 9 for UAF degree-seeking students and November 16 for non-degree-seeking students (including non-UAF students). However, to be sure of a place please contact Dr. Freymueller about the short application process prior to registration opening. UAF students with instructor permission can register in their UAOnline account. CRNs for the two 200-level and 300-level courses will be posted when they are assigned. Non-UAF students, once instructor permission has been granted, will be contacted by email with information on the registration process.

CRNs for the two 200-level and 300-level courses are (Winter 2016):

Both are two credits. UAF charges in-state tuition for students enrolled in three or fewer credits in spring semester, of which WINTERmester is part. If this is the only UAF course you are taking, you are eligible for the in-state rates posted above. The total cost of the course is the $1350 course fee plus the tuition and miscellaneous university fees given above, plus your airline ticket to and from Hawaii.

There is a nonrefundable $250 deposit required. This charge will be entered on your student account when you register and must be paid by December 1 to secure your place in the class. The nonrefundable deposit is in place simply because of the disruption that would be caused by someone dropping out at the last minute -- extra housing and transportation costs, etc. would already have been incurred.

The nonrefundable deposit ($250), tuition, campus fees and the balance of the field trip fee ($1100) can be paid through UAOnline once your registration is complete. The total field trip fee of $1350 covers all course-related expenses within Hawaii. All costs for the course need to be paid in full by December 18, 2015 in order to participate in the course.

Once the short application is complete and instructor permission has been secured, questions about the registration and/or payment process can be addressed to Summer Sessions at 907-474-7021 or summer@alaska.edu. UAF Summer Sessions & Lifelong Learning is the sponsor of the WINTERmester session when this class takes place.

Schedule (Start and end dates are firm, but day to day details remain preliminary)

The course will begin in Hilo, Hawaii and end in Kona. Students will be expected to arrive in Hilo on January 3, and will be free to leave Kona on January 12 in the morning, or from Hilo that evening. We may be able to accommodate very late night departures from Kona (around midnight) on the 11th. We will need to know the arrival and departure times and flights for all students in advance.
January 3 Students gather in Hilo, introduction
January 4 Tsunami sites in Hilo, Tree molds, Lower East Rift Zone,
January 5 Overview of Kilauea caldera, Thurston Lava Tube, Kilauea Iki, Visit Hawaii Volcano Observatory
January 6 Hilina Pali, Southwest Rift Zone, South flank of Kilauea, Lectures at Hawaii Volcano Observatory
January 7 Collect monitoring data with HVO staff
January 8 Mauna Ulu hike, Mauna Loa, kipukas
January 9 Ka'u Desert, travel to South Point and green sand beach, olivine,
January 10 Xenoliths, Hualalai volcano (Kona side), Pololu Valley
January 11 Pu'u Wa'awa'a, Waipio Valley
January 12 Trip finishes in Kona. Students may fly home this morning, or in the afternoon/evening from Hilo

Online Reference Material

I get paid to research volcanoes?

Dr. Matt Patrick from USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory was profiled in a nice video by CNBC as part of their "I get paid to do this?" series.

Dr. Jeffrey T. Freymueller
Professor of Geophysics
Geophysical Institute
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320

jfreymueller -at- alaska.edu
Phone 907-474-7286
Fax 907-474-7290
Office 413B Elvey