Geology and Geophysics
Geology and Geophysics
*G. T. Apuzen-Ito, PhD—marine geophysics and geodynamics
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
B. A. Brooks, PhD—geodetic, GPS
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
C. Blay, PhD—sedimentology, Hawaiian geology
Degrees Offered: BA in geology, BS in geology and geophysics, MS in geology and geophysics, PhD in geology and geophysics
The Academic Program
Geology and Geophysics (GG) are important branches of the geosciences, that encompass the scientific study of Earth and other bodies in our Solar System. The scope of the geosciences is extremely broad and includes important ties to meteorology and oceanography. The Earth and other planets are highly dynamic; geoscientists study the history of changes on them and the causative processes. We explore both the surfaces and interiors of planets. These studies shed light on the origin and evolution of Earth, the other planets, and, indeed, the entire Solar System. Our interests in Earth and planetary sciences ranges from submarine volcanism to understanding our environment, from coastal erosion and sea level change to past oceanic, biotic, and climatic changes, from the origins of life to monitoring earthquakes of active volcanoes, and from the composition of meteorites and Mars to the distribution of petroleum and water resources. The geosciences offer a richness in variety and unrivaled opportunity for multidisciplinary research on problems of great intellectual and practical importance.
The Department of Geology and Geophysics has much to offer students curious about humankind's place in nature. Undergraduate majors can look forward to expanding opportunities in the private and public sectors (e.g., the environment, hydrogeology). Such jobs offer incredible variety, the opportunity to work outdoors, and many opportunities for travel. Students with graduate degrees (both MS and PhD) can look forward to interesting research careers in industry, government, or in colleges and universities. The intellectual rewards of geoscience research are comparable to those infields as biomedical research, particle physics, and cosmology. Geosciences have many exciting frontiers and challenges, including learning to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, discovering the history of Mars, understanding the forces that move the surface plates of Earth, unraveling the history of Earth's surficial processes both on land and in its ocean, and helping mankind live in a sustainable manner on Earth.
At UH Manoa, the department offers outstanding programs of study at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The faculty is large (about 30 teaching and research faculty and about 53 additional graduate faculty) and diverse, so there are strong programs in all major subdisciplines. The geographic location in the midst of the Pacific Ocean and the rich geologic setting provide a natural focus for research programs in seismology, volcanology, marine geology and geophysics, planetary science, sedimentology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, paleoceanography, meteorites, and many other fields. The quality of the school's research vessels, submersibles, and analytical and computing facilities reflects its commitment to excellence in field studies, as well as in theoretical and modeling studies. The quality of the faculty, research facilities, and opportunities is difficult to match.
Students contemplating a major or minor in geology and geophysics should visit an undergraduate advisor at the earliest opportunity. Inquire with the department in POST 701.
BA in Geology
The BA degree in geology is appropriate for students interested in Earth science but not necessarily intending to pursue graduate work or employment in traditional geological sciences. It is more flexible than the BS program and is suitable for students who are considering a double major or teaching.
The BA degree requires completion of 120 credit hours of coursework, the equivalent of four years of full-time work. The BA program requires 35 credits in the geology and geophysics curriculum. This includes one introductory level GG course with a lab, seven non-introductory GG courses, a two-credit research seminar, and at least five credits of approved upper division electives. With the advice and consent of an undergraduate advisor, courses in other natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering may be substituted as electives. A mainland summer field course is an elective that students are strongly encouraged to take. Required support classes include physics, chemistry, biological sciences, and one semester of college calculus; these total 23-24 credits and should be taken as early as possible. A minimum grade of C (not C-) must be achieved in all major and support classes.
Geology and Geophysics Courses
For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.
BS in Geology and Geophysics
This BS degree is designed for students interested in pursuing graduate work or employment in the geosciences. It provides essential grounding in computational, analytical, and observational skills needed in earth science. The program is interdisciplinary and emphasizes the integration of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics in the study of the Earth.
The BS in geology and geophysics (GG) requires completion of 120 credit hours of coursework, the equivalent of four years of full-time study. Of this, 48 credits are required in the GG curriculum, including one introductory level geology course with a lab, ten non-introductory level GG courses, a two-credit research seminar, and eleven credits of GG electives. With advice and consent of an undergraduate advisor, courses in other natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering can also be taken as electives. Students are strongly encouraged to take a summer field course as an elective. An undergraduate thesis is also encouraged but not required. The required supporting science classes (28-29 credits) include physics, chemistry, biological science, and college calculus, and should be taken as early as possible. A minimum grade of C (not C-) must be achieved in each major and support classes.
Geology and Geophysics Courses
See the Upper Division Science Electives listing under the BA program. With advice and consent of an undergraduate advisor, courses in other natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering may be substituted as electives.
For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.
BS Track Emphasizing Basic Science and Research
This alternate BS track allows for a more flexible coursework program that is tailored to the student's individual goals. It requires the student to work with an advisor on a research thesis.
To apply for this track, the student must have a minimum combined grade point average of 3.0 in 24 credits of the required support courses (see below) as well as in GG 170 (or 101 or 103 and 101L), 200, and 250. The application will consist of a one-page statement of the student's objectives and research interests, presented to a GG departmental undergraduate advisor.
The thesis must be carefully planned and meet departmental requirements. A thesis supervisor and topic should be identified in the student's second-to-last year in the program. The thesis work requires at least 6 (but not more than 9) credit hours of GG 499 Undergraduate Thesis. The thesis research is presented in writing, following the style of a scientific article, and orally in a public seminar. The thesis is evaluated by both the research supervisor and a departmental undergraduate advisor.
Minor in Geology and GeophysicsThe minor requires GG 101 or 103 or 170, 101L (unless 170 is taken), 200, and 11 credits of non-introductory courses at the 300 level or higher. A 2.0 GPA is required in these courses. The minor is flexible and can provide either an introductory survey of geology or emphasize areas of particular interest to the student. A student interested in a minor in geology and geophysics should consult with an advisor from the department to tailor a plan best suited to the student's interest.
All applicants must take the GRE General Test. All students are urged to have completed a course in a computer programming language before entrance. U.S. applications are due by January 15 for admission in the fall semester or by September 1 for the spring semester. International applications are due January 1 and August 15, respectively.
Undergraduate deficiencies will be determined from the student's transcripts and intended field of study. Undergraduate coursework deficiencies will be assessed at the preliminary conference. Course GG 611 is intended for students entering from a non-geoscience field to prepare them for graduate studies in the geosciences.
Intended candidates will be accepted from undergraduate majors in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering, and they normally would be expected to have completed at least one year each of college mathematics, geology, physics, and chemistry. Adequacy of each applicant's additional preparation will depend on the particular branch of geology and geophysics being pursued. At the time of application the student should state the field in which he or she intends to study.
For MS students, the graduate studies committee of the department will determine suitability of Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis) at the preliminary conference. Virtually all students are required to follow Plan A. Plan A requires a minimum of 30 credits, including 6 credits of GG 700 Thesis Research and at least 24 credits of course work (up to 6 course work credits may be in GG 699). Plan B requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of course work and a final exam.
Students wishing to bypass the MS degree and advance directly into PhD candidacy must pass a qualifying examination during the second semester in residence.
PhD candidates are accepted with either a BS or MS degree. Students without an MS must pass a qualifying examination given at the beginning of their second semester in residence. All PhD candidates must pass a comprehensive examination no later than at the end of the fourth semester of residence for students without an MS degree or at the end of the second semester of residence for students with an MS degree. The comprehensive exam includes oral and written parts that cover in-depth subjects in the student's field of interest and also the breadth of several areas in this and other departments that bear on the field. A final examination in defense of the dissertation is required. Space and financial aid for the program are limited, so each student's progress will be reviewed annually.
Areas of Interest
The areas of interest listed below are active fields of research in the department. For each, a brief description and the required undergraduate preparation is listed. Students with backgrounds other than these may be accepted in a field if their records and recommendations are strong, but advancement to candidacy may be delayed. A complete statement of the courses and other work in each field necessary for the MS or to prepare for the PhD comprehensive examination will be given to the entering student.
The department can provide further information on research opportunities and financial aid in each of the areas of interest.
Geophysics and Tectonics. Studies in geophysics and tectonics at UH Manoa are interdisciplinary and include experimental and theoretical developments, field-based observations, and computer simulations. Together, they provide students with a background that combines both geology and geophysics for technical and professional work at industrial, governmental, and academic institutions.
Plate Tectonics. Studies of rift propagation and plate break-up; initiation and evolution of continental margins and back-arc basins; relative and absolute motion of plates; thermo-mechanical properties of oceanic lithosphere; mantle convection and the driving forces of plate tectonics; and hot spot and intraplate volcanism.
Seismology. Theory and analysis of seismic waves from active and passive sources; ocean-bottom geophysical instrumentation; multichannel seismic imaging of subduction zones, accretionary prisms, and submarine volcano flanks.
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics. Mantle flow and plume-plate interaction; plate generation and rheology from mantle flow; ocean/shore dynamics and nonlinear waves.
Rock Fracture Mechanics. Coupled field, theoretical, and laboratory analyses of the mechanics of fault growth, rock fracture, dike propagation, landslides, and crustal deformation; these topics are relevant to plate tectonics, structural geology, and engineering geology.
Entrance may be through majors in geophysics, geology, mathematics, physics, or engineering. Students need a background in geology (which can be obtained in graduate school) together with supporting mathematics and physics.
Marine and Environmental Geology. The Marine and Environmental Geology program (MEG) is focused on the dynamic physical, biological, and chemical interactions that characterize Earth surface environments. Our unique geographic location and diverse ethnic population provides an excellent natural laboratory to study the interaction of humans with natural environmental ecosystems to focus research on the Hawaiian Island archipelago. The program provides instructional and research opportunities in a wide range of topics. The MEG program consists of four main areas of research.
Biogeochemistry and Geobiology. Hawai'i's access to a variety of tropical ecosystems provides a natural laboratory to study microbial diversity and ecology. Studies in this program include research on the diversity of coral reef microorganisms, both free-living and symbiotic, and their ecosystem roles in bioerosion, succession, and colonization of surfaces and nutrient recycling. Studies are also focused on the microbial diversity and ecology of tropical wetlands and marine environments and their relationship to the production and fate of greenhouse gases (CH4, N2O). These programs include study of organisms in laboratory microcosms that can be manipulated to produce past or future environments.
Coastal Geology. Hawai'i's beaches and reefs are world-renowned for their beauty. Understanding the processes that shape them help us to preserve their splendor; this is an important motivation for research in this field. Volcanic islands provide platforms for reef community development and a unique chronicle of past sea level changes. Studies in this program have a particular emphasis on nearshore processes, coastal sedimentation and erosion, remote sensing of reefs, geologic history of Hawaiian reefs, Pacific basin sea level history, and submarine landslides. Research also focuses on carbonate petrology and petrography to derive clues to past environmental changes as well as post-depositional geochemical changes to island limestones.
Hydrogeology of Tropical Volcanic Islands. Almost all types of hydrologic environments are found in the Hawaiian Islands, ranging from near-desert conditions with annual rainfalls of less than 25 cm to Mt. Waialeale on Kaua'i, which is one of the wettest gauged spots on Earth with annual rainfall of over 10 m, and from sea level to tropical rain forests to snow and permafrost conditions at the top of Mauna Kea at 4.2 km above sea level. Human activities related to tourism and agriculture introduce additional complexities into this delicately balanced environmental system. This unique setting presents important opportunities to study groundwater transport and the fate contaminants, groundwater modeling, and the hydrogeology of Pacific islands and atolls.
Marine Geology and Paleoceanography. Hawai'i's central location within the Pacific allows easy access to deep-sea environments. Studies of deep-sea sediments explore the history of changes in ocean chemistry and productivity and their relationships to tectonic movements and climate change. Research programs in MEG also capitalize on the easy access to open ocean environments to test and refine the paleoceanographic tools used to study ancient sediments. Research is focused on elemental and heavy isotope geochemistry, micropaleontology, marine mineral authigenesis and diagenesis, paleoceanography, sedimentology, and stable isotope biogeochemistry.
Many research efforts in this program involve participation in several oceanographic expeditions each year. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in these voyages as a part of their career training. The program is multidisciplinary with cooperating faculty and courses from several other departments including civil engineering, geography, oceanography, and soil sciences. The diverse research and teaching interests of the faculty make it possible to tailor graduate degree work to fit the needs and desires of the student.
Typically an undergraduate major in geology or one of the other natural sciences along with basic courses in physics, chemistry, and mathematics would be sufficient for entrance. The student should be prepared for additional work in whatever combination of geology, geophysics, biology, civil engineering, and geochemistry is appropriate for his or her optimum development.
Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology. UH Manoa is uniquely situated to study all major aspects of volcanic systems. Active Hawaiian volcanoes are natural laboratories of intraplate volcanism and hydrothermalism; eroded fossil volcanic systems on the older islands provide windows into deeper volcanic structures; and Hawai'i is at the center of the Pacific "Ring of Fire." Our group studies submarine volcanoes with UH Manoa research vessels and remotely monitors volcanoes on Earth and other planets from ground-based and space-borne observatories. Faculty of the Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology (VGP) program operate a wide range of modern, well-equipped analytical laboratories that provide data on the chemical composition and physical properties of rocks and minerals. The Hawai'i Center for Volcanology is housed at SOEST; it includes scientists from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH-Hilo, facilitating collaborative projects to monitor active volcanoes. In addition, VGP covers basic courses in chemistry, optical minerology, petrology, structural geology, and in some cases, geological field methods and remote sensing techniques.
Ocean Spreading Center Processes. Petrologic, geochemical, and isotopic variations along and across mid-ocean ridges and back-arc basin spreading centers; geometry and dynamics of mantle flow, melt generation and magma chambers beneath spreading centers; near axis seamount genesis; hot spot-spreading center interactions; magmatic systems at propagating rifts; geochronology of submarine volcanism, elemental fluxes from erupting mid-ocean ridge volcanoes.
Physical Volcanology. The rise, degassing, and fragmentation of magma in conduits; transport and deposition from volcanic plumes and pyroclastic density currents; flood basalts and the eruption and emplacement of lavas; caldera volcanoes and ignimbrites; volatile degassing and retention in magma chambers; environmental impact and social consequences of eruptions; origin of dike complexes and rift zones; and volcanic processes on extraterrestrial bodies.
Mantle and crustal geochemistry. Geochemical and isotopic tracing of mantle composition and evolution; geochemical cycling; geosphere-hydrosphere exchanges. These studies are facilitated by our excellent instrumentation and chemical preparation laboratories.
Intraplate Volcanism and Volcano Monitoring. Petrologic, geochemical, isotopic, and geologic evolution of Hawaiian and other oceanic islands and seamounts; petrologic, seismic, and geodetic monitoring of magmatic systems at active Hawaiian volcanoes; satellite monitoring of volcanic hazards and eruption clouds; remote-sensing observation of extraterrestrial volcanoes. Relationship of hot spots to flood basalt and oceanic plateau formation; geochemistry of active hydrothermal systems.
Planetary Geoscience and Remote Sensing. The principal objective of this program, centered in HIGP, is to study the geology and composition of objects (planets, asteroids, moons, and meteorites) in the Solar System in order to understand their origin and evolution. It involves research in planetary and terrestrial geology, cosmochemistry, volcanology, planetary astronomy, and scientific instrumentation. Current research areas include:
Meteoritics and Cosmochemistry. Research on extraterrestrial materials (from asteroids, the Moon, and Mars) focuses on the vast array of processes that formed and modified planets and asteroids. Central themes of our research are: (1) processes in the solar nebula; (2) alteration processes in asteroids; (3) the effects of shock on mineralogy, textures, and isotopic systems; (4) igneous processes; and (5) planetary crustal compositions and evolution.
Inner Planets and the Moons. Several HIGP faculty are involved in a number of remote sensing and petrology projects that have as their focus deriving greater knowledge of the composition of the crust and mantle of the Moon and Mercury, which is crucial to understanding lunar origin and differentiation of planetary crusts. HIGP faculty are science team members on both the MESSENGER and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. Mars research is focused on the study of geologic processes, and the analysis of the composition of the surface. High resolution images, compositional information and topographic data from satellites in orbit around Mars (Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) allow us to explore volcanic processes and the mode of formation of impact craters. Data from thermal infrared and gamma-ray spectrometers are used to study the composition of Martian crust and weathering history of the planet.
Terrestrial Remote Sensing. Several faculty within HIGP are involved with the analysis of data of volcanic thermal anomalies using spacecraft (Landsat 7, EO-1, Terra, Aqua, GOES), aircraft, and ground observations. These data allow studies of the flux of magma through volcanic systems and evaluation of eruption precursors. Similar work on thermal anomalies focuses on the study of forest fires worldwide. Data from the GOES geostationary satellite are made available on the HIGP website (goes.higp.hawaii.edu) and MODIS thermal alerts for the entire world are made available at modis.higp.hawaii.edu. Imaging radar remote sensing is also conducted within HIGP. This includes interferometric studies of volcano deformation using ENVISAT and ALOS data for understanding magma emplacement and volcano tectonics. HIGP is a major partner (with the College of Engineering) in the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, which includes preparation for future UH-led space missions involving small satellites.
Instrument Development. HIGP has many years of experience in developing instruments for use in studying global and regional problems in Earth and planetary science. One group is developing hyperspectral thermal infrared imagers for use in lithologic mapping and the analysis of temperature anomalies. A new instrument is in the development stage for possible future flight on a space mission to be led by the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory. HIGP has developed real-time, field-based methods for measuring thermal activity and flux of sulfur dioxide from volcanoes, and works with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor Kilauea volcano on the Big Island. Other groups are developing an infrasonics array as part of a global monitoring system for the detection of atmospheric disturbances, and lidar systems for the measurement of atmospheric aerosols and rock compositions. Another group built the HIGP Acoustic Wide Angle Imaging Instrument, Mapping Researcher 1 (HAWAII MR1).
Typically, an undergraduate major in geology, astronomy, physics, or engineering, along with basic courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, would be sufficient for entrance. The student should be prepared to commence or continue course work in whatever combination of geology, geophysics, geochemistry, planetary science, spectroscopy, radar science, or remote sensing is appropriate for optimum development in the field.
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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