GeoScience on Big Island of Hawaii Field Course for Educators

July 5-11 and August 2-8, 2015

A serious encounter for science educators with current aspect of earth science as displayed by the mid-ocean volcanic “Big Island” of Hawaii

Update yourself on geologic aspects of a mid-ocean volcanic mountain complex and the latest thoughts on global plate tectonics

It’s a common misconception that the geology of the Hawaiian Islands, especially the “Big Island” of Hawaii, is only about volcanoes. True, the Big Island does display Earth’s largest volcanic mountain, Mauna Loa, its tallest volcano, Mauna Kea, and the world’s most famous active volcano, Kilauea; however, it displays many other geologic features as well. For example, glacial deposits above 10,000 feet on Mauna Kea represents several stages of late-Pleistocene glaciation. Huge submarine landslide deposits cover major portions of the island’s submarine slopes and surrounding seafloor. Above sea level fault scarps abound along the flanks of Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Coral and stony algal growth in the island’s subtropical coastal waters build incipient reef structures. Beaches display evidence of erosion, transportation and deposition of sediments along the island’s shores where volcanic black sand, olivine green sand and coral-rich white carbonate sand provide testimony of the island’s diverse geology.

The result of these many geologic processes is a mid-ocean, and mid-tectonic plate, volcanic mountain-island complex that provides an ideal geoscience laboratory. Hawaii’s year round exemplary weather makes it an ideal place to study the many aspects of its diverse geology. This field seminar provides educators the opportunity to upgrade their skills in earth science instruction, especially with respect to global tectonics and the interaction of the lithosphere with the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. In addition to observations of active volcanoes and their various molten rock products, you check out geologic faults representing major structural features along the volcano’s growing slopes. You hike through Pleistocene glacial deposits. You snorkel among corals of the island’s young fringing reefs and examine its various black, green and white sandy beaches. During the many interactive field trips you can examine, probe, question and discuss. Geoscience comes to life here. You can be a part of that.


Arrival (Sunday, Hilo, Hawaii)
Airport pickup and transport to the Dolphin Bay Hotel for check in and evening reception.

Day 1: Kilauea Volcano (Volcano National Park)
Field trip to the planet’s most studied and most famous active volcano. View the summit caldera and southeast rift zone and examine lava flows, periodic explosive tephra ash deposits, fissures, pit craters, lava tubes, fault scarps and many more related volcanic features. Evening hike to view 2000 degree molten lava flows – if active.

Day 2: Tsunami Museum; Hamakua Coast Road Trip
Morning visit to the Pacific Tsunami Museum (lecture/displays) followed by presentation on Hawaii’s geologic history. Afternoon road trip along the Hamakua coast, northeastern Big Island. View headward erosion at Akaka Falls and discuss the interaction of the volcanic mountain-island with its surrounding atmosphere (climate), hydrosphere (ocean) and biosphere (plants). Discuss Pacific Basin tsunamis at Lapahoehoe Peninsula, and view the headwall of a giant submarine landslide at scenic Waipio Valley.

Day 3: Mauna Kea Summit – Volcanics and Glacial Deposits
Excursion to the summit region of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s highest volcanic mountain (13,796 ft) to examine volcanic products and glacial deposits and to discuss the mountain’s complex geologic history. Experience Hawaii’s meteorological setting – orographic lifting and inversion. Brief Keck astronomy observatory tour.

Day 4: South Point Area Black and Green Sand Beaches
Drive to southern tip of the island to observe black (volcanic) sand beach at Punaluu and dramatic fault scarp at South Point. Hike (2.5 miles) along scenic, high-energy, wind-swept and wave-eroded coast to Hawaii’s famous green (olivine) sand beach at Mahana Bay (swimming). Continue to Kailua-Kona; lodging at Royal Kona Resort.

Day 5: Hawaii’s Reef and Assorted Beach Systems
Morning lecture – Character and Origin of Hawaiian Reef and Beach Systems, followed by field trip to examine glassy volcanic (black) and coral/algal carbonate (white) sand beaches along Kona’s arid coast. Snorkel session in shallow marine reefal setting.

Departure (Saturday, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
Transport to airport.

7 DAY PROGRAM (including travel)
6 NIGHTS LODGING (Dolphin Bay Hotel, Hilo & Royal Kona Resort, Kailua-Kona)

Seminar Fee: $ 1,250

Sharing a room: $ 650
Additional person: $ 525
Single room: $ 1,175

Extensive course notebook provided.
All lunches included (most evening meals on your own).
Transportation to and from Big Island not included.

Continuing Education Credits available from University of Hawaii:
CEUs (3 credits): $40