Home About UH Academic Calendar Courses Undergraduate Education Graduate Education Degrees, Minors, & Certificates Colleges, Schools, & Academic Units


General Information


Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology

Hawaii Natural Energy Institute

Hawaii Space Grant Consortium

Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory

International Pacific Research Center

Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Sea Grant College Program

Geology and Geophysics


Geology and Geophysics

POST 701
1680 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-7640
Fax: (808) 956-5512
Email: gg-dept@soest.hawaii.edu
Web: www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/index.html


*Graduate Faculty

*G. T. Apuzen-Ito, PhD—marine geophysics and geodynamics
*J. M. Becker, PhD—geophysical fluid dynamics
*C. P. Conrad, PhD—geodynamics, marine geophysics
*H. Dulaiova, PhD—coastal hydrology
*R. A. Dunn, PhD—marine geophysics
*A. I. El-Kadi, PhD—groundwater hydrology
*C. H. Fletcher, PhD—coastal geology
*L. N. Frazer, PhD—geophysics
*E. J. Gaidos, PhD—geobiology, planetary science
*M. O. Garcia, PhD—igneous petrology, volcanology
*C. R. Glenn, PhD—sedimentology, diagenesis, paleoceanography
*J. E. Hammer, PhD—physical volcanology
*E. W. Hellebrand, PhD—igneous petrology
*B. F. Houghton, PhD—physical volcanology
*A. H. Jahren, PhD—geobiology
*K. T. M. Johnson, PhD—geochemistry, petrology, marine geology
*S. J. Martel, PhD—engineering geology, structural geology, geomechanics
*G. F. Moore, PhD—exploration seismology, tectonics
*B. N. Popp, PhD—isotopic biogeochemistry
*D. Pyle, PhD—geochemistry, petrology
*G. E. Ravizza, PhD—paleoceanography
*S. K. Rowland, PhD—volcanology, Hawaiian geology
*K. H. Rubin, PhD—geochemistry, environmental chemistry, volcanology
K. Ruttenberg, PhD—biogeochemistry, geochemistry
*T. Shea, PhD—physical volcanology
*J. M. Sinton, PhD—igneous petrology, marine geology
*S. M. Stanley, PhD—paleobiology, geobiology
*B. Taylor, PhD—plate tectonics, geology of ocean margin basins
*P. Wessel, PhD—plate tectonics, marine geophysics

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

B. A. Brooks, PhD—geodetic, GPS
R. Butler, PhD—seismology
E. H. DeCarlo, PhD—marine geochemistry, marine resources
M. H. Edwards, PhD—marine geology and geophysics
S. A. Fagents, PhD—planetary volcanology
L. Flynn, PhD—remote sensing of fires and volcanoes
P. B. Fryer, PhD—marine geology, petrology, tectonics
M. D. Fuller, PhD—paleomagnetism, geomagnetism
M. A. Garcés, PhD—infrasound, wave propagation, volcanology
J. Gillis-Davis, PhD—planetary geosciences, remote sensing
B. R. Hawke, PhD—planetary geosciences
E. Herrero-Bervera, PhD—paleomagnetism, geomagnetism
R. N. Hey, PhD—marine geophysics and tectonics
G. R. Huss, PhD—cosmochemistry, early solar system chronology
K. Keil, DrRerNat.—meteorites, planetary geosciences
A. N. Krot, PhD—meteorites, planetary geosciences
B. R. Lienert, PhD—geophysics
P. G. Lucey, PhD—planetary geosciences
F. Mackenzie, PhD—sedimentary geochemistry, sedimentology
M. H. Manghnani, PhD—high-pressure geophysics, mineral physics
F. Martinez, PhD—marine geophysics
F. W. McCoy, PhD—marine geology, sedimentology
L. C. Ming, PhD—high-pressure mineralogy
P. J. Mouginis-Mark, PhD—planetary science, remote sensing
K. Ruttenberg, PhD—biogeochemistry
J. E. Schoonmaker, PhD—marine geology and geochemistry
E. R. D. Scott, PhD—planetary geosciences
S. K. Sharma, PhD—Raman and IR spectroscopy in geochemistry
G. J. Taylor, PhD—planetary geosciences
D. M. Thomas, PhD—geothermal and volcanic geochemistry
C. J. Wolfe, PhD—seismology, marine geophysics
R. Wright, PhD—volcanology
P. Zinin, PhD—geophysics, planetology

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

C. Blay, PhD—sedimentology, Hawaiian geology
A. Greene, PhD—geochemistry
C. Gregg, PhD—volcanology
D. Oki, PhD—hydrology
M. Patrick, PhD—volcanology
A. Pietruszka, PhD—geochemistry
M. Reid, PhD—hydrogeology
J. Rooney, PhD—coastal, geology
T. Sale, PhD—hydrology
B. Schmitz, PhD—geobiosphere, astronomy
D. A. Swanson, PhD—volcanology
T. Thordarson, PhD—volcanology
F. A. Trusdell, PhD—volcanology, Hawaiian geology
D. Weis, PhD—geochemistry, volcanology

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, oceanography, chemistry, biology, and physics. 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 to 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.

Undergraduate Study

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 study. 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

  • Required Courses (30 credits)
    • GG 170 Physical Geology (4) or 101 Dynamic Earth (3), or 103 Geology of the Hawaiian Islands (3)
    • GG 101L Dynamic Earth Laboratory (1) (unless GG 170 is taken)
    • GG 200 Geological Inquiry (4)
    • GG 250 Scientific Programming (3)
    • GG 301 Mineralogy (4)
    • GG 302 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (3)
    • GG 303 Structural Geology (3)
    • GG 305 Geological Field Methods (3)
    • GG 309 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4)
    • GG 410 Undergraduate Seminar (2)
  • Upper Division Science Electives (5 credits)
    • GG 300 Volcanology (3)
    • GG 304 Physics of Earth and Planets (4)
    • GG 312 Geomathematics (3)
    • GG 325 Geochemistry (3)
    • GG 399 Directed Reading (V)
    • GG 402 Hawaiian Geology (3)
    • GG 407 Energy and Mineral Resources (3)
    • GG 413 Geological Data Analysis I (3)
    • GG 420 Coastal Geology (3)
    • GG 421 Geologic Record of Climate Change (3)
    • GG 423 Marine Geology (3)
    • GG 425 Environmental Geochemistry (3)
    • GG 444 Plate Tectonics (3)
    • GG 450 Geophysical Methods (4)
    • GG 451 Earthquakes (3)
    • GG 455 Hydrogeology (4)
    • GG 460 Geological Remote Sensing (3)
    • GG 466 Planetary Geology (3)
    • GG 499 Undergraduate Thesis (3)
  • Required Support Courses (23-24 credits)
    • General Chemistry (CHEM 161, 161L, 162, 162L)
    • Calculus I (MATH 241)
    • College Physics (PHYS 151, 151L, 152, 152L)
    • Biological Sciences (BIOL 171, or ZOOL 101, or MICR 130)

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

  • Required GG Courses (37 credits)
    • GG 170 Physical Geology (4) or 101 Dynamic Earth (3), or 103 Geology of the Hawaiian Islands (3)
    • GG 101L Dynamic Earth Laboratory (1) (unless GG 170 is taken)
    • GG 200 Geological Inquiry (4)
    • GG 250 Scientific Programming (3)
    • GG 301 Mineralogy (4)
    • GG 302 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (3)
    • GG 303 Structural Geology (3)
    • GG 304 Physics of Earth and Planets (4) OR 450 Geophysical Methods (4)
    • GG 305 Geological Field Methods (3)
    • GG 309 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (4)
    • GG 325 Geochemistry (3)
    • GG 410 Undergraduate Seminar (2)
  • Upper Division GG Electives (11 credits)

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.

  • Required Support Courses (28-29 credits)
    • Chemistry (CHEM 161, 161L, 162, 162L)
    • Calculus I and II (MATH 241 and 242)
    • Physics (PHYS 170, 170L, 272, 272L)
    • Biological Sciences (BIOL 171, or ZOOL 101, or MICR 130)

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 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.

Course Requirements

  • Required GG Courses (22 credits)
    • GG 170 Physical Geology (4) (or 101 Dynamic Earth (3), or 103 Geology of the Hawaiian Islands (3) and 101L Dynamic Earth Laboratory)
    • GG 200 Geological Inquiry (4)
    • GG 250 Scientific Programming (3)
    • GG 410 Undergraduate Seminar (2)
    • GG 413 Geological Data Analysis I (3)
    • GG 499 Undergraduate Thesis (6)
  • Upper Division GG Electives (25 credits, see above)
  • Required Support Courses (32 credits)
    • Chemistry: CHEM 161 (3), 161L (1), 162 (3), 162L (1)
    • Calculus I and II: MATH 241 (4) and 242 (4)
    • Physics: PHYS 170 (4), 170L (1), 272 (3), 272L (1)
    • Biology: BIOL 171 (3), 171L (1), 172 (3), 172L(1)

Minor in Geology and Geophysics

The 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.

Graduate Study

Admission Requirements

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 course work deficiencies will be assessed at the preliminary conference. GG 611 is intended for students entering from a non-geoscience field to prepare them for graduate studies in the geosciences.

Master’s Degree

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.

Doctoral Degree


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 relevant general information from this and other departments. 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 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 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. Subtopics 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 flow and plume-plate interaction; plate generation and rheology from mantle flow; 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. The Marine and Environmental Geology program (MEG) is focused on the dynamic physical, biological, and chemical interactions that characterize Earth surface environments. Researchers work on problems ranging from those of pure scientific curiosity to pragmatic problem-solving for local environmental problems, and including everything in-between. Professors travel to field sites all over the world to measure water, atmosphere, sediments, and living tissues and to record their propeties–their travel also includes several large-scale projects located within the Hawaiian Islands. Instruction is designed to provide students with hands-on exposure to the most exciting, contemporary issues in environmental science, particularly on topics where the field of geology overlaps with other sciences and with social conerns. Laboratory experiments involve using the newest biogeochemical technologies in order to assess the health and integrity of coastal systems, 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. Topics of interest carry implications for sustainability, agriculture, the fishing industry, beachfront development and economy, as well as other immediate social concerns.

Many research efforts in this program involve participation in oceanographic expeditions. 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. 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, biology, civil engineering, and/or geochemistry, as appropriate for his or her optimum intellectual 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 hydrothermal activity; eroded fossil volcanic systems on other islands provide windows into deeper volcanic structures; and Hawai'i is at the center of the Pacific "Ring of Fire." Collectively, the group has active field programs that are global in scope. The group studies submarine volcanoes with UH Manoa and other research vessels, and on 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 Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology (VGP) program 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 geochemistry, optical mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, volcanology, geological field methods, and remote sensing 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 volanoes 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; 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, centered in HIGP, studies the geology and composition of objects (planets, asteroids, moons, and meteorites) in the Solar System 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: (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. Faculty are science team members on multiple planetary missions (MESSENGER, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter); (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 the like. 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; (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, 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 and to satisfy minimum requirements in the Geology and Geophysics department.

GG Courses