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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 2014
January 5-13, beginning and ending in Hilo, Hawaii

Instructors: Jeff Freymueller


Pavel Izbekov


Last Updated: January 27, 2014

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 $1195, which includes food and lodging in the field along with local transportation, but does not include your airfare to Hilo, Hawai'i.

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 101, GEOS 112, GEOS 213 or GEOS 262, and 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.

You can find the UAF course descriptions at this link.

I have currently had UAF set this up to require permission for everyone to enroll, because there are no pre-requisite checks implemented by Wintermester. So please contact me for more details.

CRNs for the two 200-level and 300-level courses are (Winter 2014):

There will be a non-refundable $250 deposit required to secure a place in the class at registration time. This is in place simply because of the disruption that would be caused by someone dropping out at the last minute -- extra housing costs, etc would already have been incurred.

Registration information for Wintermester is at the UAF Summer Sessions website. Registration for Wintermester courses opens on November 11 for degree-seeking students and November 18 for non-degree-seeking students (I think this means that non-UAF students need to wait until November 18). However, to be sure of a place please contact me so that I can put you on the list for instructor permission.

UAF students will be able to pay the tuition and fees through UA Online as normal. Non-UAF students will register through Summer Sessions and this will create an account on UA Online for them, and within a couple of days they will be able to log in and pay through that system.

Schedule (Preliminary)

The course will begin and end in Hilo, Hawaii. Students will be expected to arrive in Hilo on January 5, and will be free to leave Hilo on January 13 by the middle of the day. We will need to know the arrival and departure times and flights for all students in advance.
January 5 Students gather, introduction
January 6 Overview of Kilauea caldera, Tree molds, lower East Rift Zone
January 7 Visit Hawaii Volcano Observatory, Thurston Lava Tube, Kilauea Iki
January 8 Hilina Pali, Southwest Rift Zone, South flank of Kilauea
January 9 Collect monitoring data with HVO staff
January 10 Mauna Loa, Ka'u Desert, travel to South Point
January 11 Green sand beach, olivine, xenoliths, Hualalai volcano (Kona side)
January 12 Waipio Valley and eroded, north side of the island
January 13 Return to Hilo

Field Trip Stops Include:

Online Reference Material

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

Phone 907-474-7286
Fax 907-474-7290
Office 413B Elvey