Geology and Geophysics
Geology and Geophysics
*K. H. Rubin, PhD (Chair)—geochemistry, environmental chemistry, volcanology
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
B. Bruno, PhD—planetary volcanology and geoscience education
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
C. Bina, PhD—mineralogy
Degrees Offered:BA in geology (environmental earth science or earth science education), BS in geology and geophysics, Master of Geoscience for Professionals (MGeo), MS in geology and geophysics, PhD in geology and geophysics
The Academic Program
The Department of Geology and Geophysics (GG) is dedicated to the scientific study of the exterior and interior of the Earth and other planetary bodies. Sub-disciplines within GG are many, and offer rich opportunities for multidisciplinary study of problems of great intellectual and practical importance. Coastal geologists study processes such as sedimentation and beach erosion, reef growth and degradation, and sea level change. Hydrologists and Hydrogeochemists study the cycling of fresh water between the atmosphere, land, and ocean. Of particular emphasis is how climate change impacts this cycle; how fresh water supplies are impacted by human activities, including land-use practices and the introduction of contaminants into surface and groundwater; and how climate, hydrologic, and terrestrial processes impact the ocean and its ecosystems by way of surface water and submarine groundwater discharge. Structural geologists study the physical features produced in rock units by deformational processes such as mountain building, rifting, and earthquakes. Engineering geologists provide geotechnical recommendations affecting the design, construction, and operation of engineering projects based on Earth material properties, geological structures, and processes such as faulting, landslides, erosion, and flooding. Mineralogists and petrologists examine the temperature, pressure, and environmental conditions that influence the formation of minerals and rocks. Geochemists specialize in the chemistry of Earth materials to understand a very broad range of subjects including the make-up of the deep Earth, the formation of the seafloor, the origin of volcanoes, as well as past and present changes in Earth’s climate, ocean environment, and life. Volcanologists study how gas, fluid, and magma interact to create different types of volcanic eruptions, and address hazard mitigation. Geophysicists use seismic waves, potential fields, sonar, radar, and GPS for studying earthquakes, Earth’s surface and internal structure, land deformation, and plate tectonics. They also use mathematics, continuum mechanics, and high performance computing to model Earth and planetary processes. Planetary scientists examine how the Earth and Solar System formed, study active processes on planetary bodies, search for extrasolar planets, and explore planetary conditions needed for life.
Undergraduate and graduate students in GG are instructed and advised by world-class researchers in a variety of the above sub-disciplines. Students participate in a diverse course curriculum involving in-class instruction, laboratory activities, fieldwork, and shipboard exercises. They have access to state-of-the-art facilities including a number of different types of mass spectrometers, an electron microprobe, an X-ray fluorescence laboratory, and high-performance computing facilities. Field trips take students to volcanoes on Hawai‘i and other islands, as well as geologic settings on the U.S. mainland and around the world. Students also participate on research cruises onboard one of several research vessels that are operated by SOEST. GG students who are involved in research projects regularly present their findings in scientific conferences and journal publications. These varied activities allow students to take full advantage of Hawai‘i’s unique geographic location and its rich geologic and environmental setting.
Students graduate from the Department of Geology and Geophysics (GG) with an in-depth understanding of the relevance of the geosciences to society, especially in Hawai'i and on Pacific islands, as well as the ways human civilization impacts the Earth and environment. Students are able to use skills in math, physics, chemistry, and biology as well as technical knowledge in computer applications, laboratory methods, and field techniques for solving real-world problems in the geosciences. Graduates know how to ethically apply the scientific method and can use basic principles in geoscience for explaining natural phenomenon. GG graduates develop proficiency in communicating their knowledge in oral presentations and in writing professional documents. As a result, GG majors are very successful in obtaining jobs in fields within or closely related to the geosciences. These fields include environmental assessment and remediation, engineering, geotechnical consulting, oil, natural gas and mineral resources development; water resource management; science education; as well as applied and basic research.
Students contemplating a major or minor in geology and geophysics should contact the SOEST Director of Student Services in HIG 135 (808) 956-8763. The two undergraduate advisors can be contacted through the department office (808) 956-7640, firstname.lastname@example.org. Graduate students are appointed a faculty advisor upon admittance into the program.
BA in Geology
The BA degree in geology is appropriate for students interested in Earth Science but not necessarily intending to pursue graduate school. It is more flexible than the BS program and has two tracks: Environmental Earth Science and Earth Science Education. The BA degree requires completion of 120 credit hours of course work, the equivalent of four years of full-time study. A minimum grade of C (not C-) must be achieved in each class in the major and in all support classes.
BA in Geology, Environmental Earth Science Track
The Environmental Earth Science track is geared toward students who plan to enter the environmental and geotechnical fields upon graduation. It includes a combination of traditional geology topics such as field methods and sedimentology, as well as more applied topics such as hydrogeology, geospatial information, and environmental geochemistry.
This BA track requires 27 credits in the geology and geophysics curriculum. This includes one introductory level GG course with a lab, six non-introductory GG courses, a two-credit research seminar, and at least 15 credits of approved electives in GG or other departments. With the advice and consent of an undergraduate advisor, courses in other natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering may be substituted as electives. Students are strongly encouraged to take a mainland summer field course as an elective. Required support classes include physics, chemistry, biological sciences, and one semester of college calculus; these total 24-25 credits and should be taken as early as possible.
Geology and Geophysics and Other Courses
For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.
BA in Geology, Earth Science Education Track
The Earth Science Education track is for students who want to become excellent middle school and high school Earth Science teachers. The curriculum includes required topical course work for Earth Sciences certification by the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, including courses in geology and geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics. If students in the Earth Science Education track enroll in the College of Education’s Post-Baccalaureate certificate program after they earn the BA, they will be certified as Earth Science teachers in Hawai‘i.
This BA track requires 39 credits in the geology and geophysics, oceanography, and/atmospheric sciences curriculum, including introductory level GG and ATMO courses with labs, seven non-introductory GG, ATMO, and OCN courses, a two-credit research seminar, an upper-division teacher education course, and at least 5 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. Students are strongly encouraged to take a mainland summer field course as an elective. 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.
Geology and Geophysics and Other 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.
A total of 37 credits are required in the GG curriculum, including one introductory level geology course with a lab, nine 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 (28-30 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 class of the major and in all support classes.
Geology and Geophysics Courses
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 course work 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 GPA of 3.0 in 30 credits of the required support courses (see below) plus in GG 170 (or 101 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 and the proposed faculty thesis advisor. Acceptance into the research track requires the approval of both the faculty advisor and the proposed thesis advisor.
The thesis must be carefully planned and meet departmental requirements. A thesis supervisor and topic should be identified when a student enters 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 for the fall and spring semesters, respectively.
Any undergraduate deficiencies will be determined from the student’s transcripts and intended field of study, and a plan to address them will be devised at a preliminary conference. GG 611 is intended for students entering from a non-geoscience field to prepare them for graduate studies in the geosciences.
The department offers three master’s degrees. The research MS (Plan A degree) emphasizes research and culminates in the public defense of a written thesis. The course work MS (Plan B) degree involves a research project but does not require a thesis. The MGeo degree emphasizes an internship and a professional focus but does not require a thesis. Applicants who are unsure about which MS program to apply should consult with the department prior to applying.
Master of Geoscience for Professionals (MGeo)
The MGeo is a degree for individuals seeking advanced training for careers in geoscience-related industries or federal, state, and local agencies. Key courses are appropriately scheduled or administered for working professionals to obtain an MGeo in as little as two years of half-time study. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering, and are normally expected to have completed at least one year each of college mathematics, geology, physics, and chemistry.
The MGeo degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, including a total of 6 credits of MGeo Professional Project. At least 12 credits will be in GG graduate courses (GG 600-740), excluding GG 699; and 12 credits may be taken from a list of upper-division undergraduate courses that emphasize applied geoscience.
MGeo Seminar is a 1-credit course that must be taken each year, as many as three times. Students will participate in a professional work project as an employee, intern, or volunteer with a company or agency (gaining the credits in MGeo Professional Project). The outcome of the project is presented orally and in a written report.
Candidates are accepted from undergraduate majors in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Incoming students normally are expected to have completed at least one year each of college mathematics, geology, physics, and chemistry. The 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 the suitability of a Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis) pathway at a preliminary conference, although 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 (as many as 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.
PhD candidates are accepted with either a BS or MS degree. Students without an MS degree 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 the end of the fourth semester of residence (for students without an MS degree). The comprehensive exam includes oral and written parts that cover subjects in-depth within the student's field of interest as well as relevant general information from geology, geophysics, and other disciplines. A final defense of the dissertation is required. Space and financial aid for the PhD program are limited, and each student’s progress will be reviewed annually.
Areas of Interest
The areas of interest listed below are active fields of faculty and graduate research in the department. For each, a brief description and the required undergraduate preparation are 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 additional information on research opportunities and financial aid in each of the areas of interest. Many research efforts in the department involve participation in extensive fieldwork and oceanographic expeditions. Graduate students are encouraged to participate in these opportunities as a part of their career training.
Geophysics and Tectonics (GT). 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. Subtopics in GT include: (a) Plate Tectonics–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; (b) 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; (c) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics–mantle convection and plume-plate interaction; ocean/shore dynamics and nonlinear waves; (d) Rock Fracture Mechanics–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 (MEG). The Marine and Environmental Geology (MEG) program is focused on the dynamic physical, biological, and chemical interactions that characterize Earth’s surface terrestrial and marine environments and also the history of these interactions over the course of geologic time. Researchers work on problems ranging from those of pure scientific curiosity about global phenomena to pragmatic problem-solving of environmental problems, and including everything in-between. Faculty and students of the MEG group work throughout the Hawaiian Islands and travel to field sites all over the world to study processes and interactions between water, atmosphere, submarine groundwater discharge, sediments, and living organisms and their tissues. Research also extends backward through deep time, integrating the biological and physical aspects of Earth history through the study of rocks and fossils. Instruction is designed to provide students with hands-on exposure to the most exciting, contemporary issues in environmental science, particularly on topics where the fields of geology and oceanography overlap with other environmental sciences. Laboratories use the newest biogeochemical technologies and instrumentation in order to assess the health and integrity of coastal system environments, to reconstruct past climates and life forms, to characterize the movement of precious water resources, and to understand the chemical cycling of both organic and inorganic components of the ocean. MEG research topics have important implications and benefits for the sustainability of fresh water resources and reserves, agriculture, coastal and marine ecosystems, fisheries, Hawai‘i’s beaches and economy, and other topics of immediate societal concern.
The MEG program is multidisciplinary with cooperating faculty and courses from several other departments including civil engineering, geography, oceanography, and soil sciences among others. 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. Requirements for admission typically include an undergraduate major in geology or one of the other natural sciences, along with basic courses in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Students often study a combination of geology, geophysics, oceanography, biology, civil engineering, and/or geochemistry, as appropriate for his or her optimum intellectual development.
Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology (VGP). UH Manoa is uniquely situated to study all major aspects of volcanic systems. Active Hawaiian volcanoes are natural laboratories of intraplate volcanism and hydrothermal activity; eroded fossil volcanic systems on other islands provide windows into deeper volcanic structures, moreover, Hawai‘i is at the center of the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” Collectively, the VGP group has active field programs that are global in scope. The group studies submarine volcanoes with research vessels based at UH Manoa and other institutions, investigates terrestrial volcanoes around the world, and participates in remote monitoring of volcanoes on Earth and other planets using ground-based and space-borne observatories. Faculty of the VGP group operate a wide range of modern, well equipped, state-of-the-art analytical laboratories that provide data on the chemical composition and physical properties of rocks and minerals. In addition, VGP covers basic courses in Hawaiian geology, geologic hazards, geochemistry, optical mineralogy, petrology, volcanology, geological field methods, remote sensing, and GIS techniques.
Specialized topics that members of the group study include (a) geometry and dynamics of mantle flow; melt generation and magma chamber processes at submarine volcanoes from petrologic, geochemical, and isotopic variations at mid-ocean ridges and back-arc basin spreading centers; active volcanism at submarine volcanoes; geochronology of submarine volcanism; and volcano interactions with the submarine environment; (b) physical processes at volcanoes giving rise to 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 and volcanic processes on extraterrestrial bodies; (c) geochemical and isotopic tracing of mantle composition and evolution; geochemical cycling; geosphere-hydrosphere exchanges; (d) 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; and remote-sensing observation of extraterrestrial volcanoes.
Entrance through majors in geology or chemistry is most typical. Students need a background in geology (which can be obtained in graduate school) together with supporting mathematics and physics.
Planetary Geoscience and Remote Sensing. This program relies heavily on GG graduate faculty based in the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), as well as faculty members based in GG. It studies the geology and composition of objects (planets, asteroids, moons, and meteorites) in the Solar System to understand their origin and evolution. Faculty members are on the science teams of multiple planetary missions (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter). The program involves research in planetary and terrestrial geology, cosmochemistry, volcanology, planetary astronomy, and scientific instrumentation. Current research areas include: (a) research on extraterrestrial materials from asteroids, the Moon, and Mars as records of processes in the solar nebula; alteration processes; the effects of shock; igneous processes; and planetary crustal compositions and evolution; (b) remote sensing and petrology of the moon, Mars, and Mercury to understand planetary formation, differentiation, and weathering of planetary crusts, volcanic processes, and the mode of formation of impact craters; (c) terrestrial remote sensing using spacecraft (Landsat 7, EO-1, Terra, Aqua, GOES), aircraft, and ground observations to study the flux of magma through volcanic systems, eruption precursors, forest fires worldwide and more. 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 Hawai‘i Space Flight Laboratory, which includes preparation for future UH-led space missions involving small satellites; (d) developing instruments for use in studying global and regional problems in Earth and planetary science, such as hyperspectral thermal infrared imagers for use in lithologic mapping, the analysis of temperature anomalies, the flux of sulfur dioxide from volcanoes, an infrasonics array for a global monitoring system for the detection of atmospheric disturbances, and lidar systems for the measurement of atmospheric aerosols and rock compositions.
Typically, an undergraduate major in geology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, or engineering, accompanied by basic courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, provides a sufficient background 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 and to satisfy requirements in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.
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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