Hawaii Field Camp


Contact Dr. Uzunlar to be waitlisted for SUMMER 2017



December 27, 2017 - January 12, 2018 -Three credits

  register online


July 25 - August 11, 2018 - Three credits


  register online


July 25 - August 16, 2018 - Four credits


  register online



Cost : Undergraduate; $3,895.00  - Three Credits and $4,895 - Four Credits

Graduate; $4,395.00 three credits and $5,395 - Four Credits

  • Deposit $500 (required upon registration). Cost includes tuition, fees, food, lodging and daily transportation to the sites.  Cost does not include airfare to the Island . Roundtrip airfare from US to Hilo ranges between 600 and $1200 depending on starting point.

  • Each session limited to 20

Introduction: The 5800 km-long Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain reveals the relative motion of the Pacific Plate over the past 100 million years and provides the Earth’s most dramatic illustration of hotspot volcanism. The Big Island of Hawaii, which currently overlies the hotspot, hosts the World’s Tallest Mountain (Mauna Kea, as measured from base to peak), the World’s Largest Volcano (Mauna Loa), the World’s Most Active Volcano (Kilauea), and the Most Deadly Volcano in the US (Kilauea). Projects will investigate past and present volcanic and tectonic systems of Hawaii. Some projects are integrated with initiatives of the USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory (HVO) to monitor current activity and volcano hazards of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Prerequisites: Physical geology, mineralogy and/or petrology required; structural geology, and volcanology helpful but not required.

Projects: Students will map lava flows of the desolate saddle between Mauna Loa and Kilauea at 10,000 feet. This project culminates with a hike to the summit of Mauna Kea to view the Milky Way Galaxy from a vantage point having minimal atmospheric distortion and anthropogenic light. Students will characterize the stratigraphy of the cove surrounding the famous Green Sand Beach near South Point (the southern-most location of the US) and investigate the origin and persistence of the unique olivine sands on the beach.

Students will measure 3D displacements across a series of crack stations that are intended to monitor the Koa’e Fault System of Kilauea’s East Rift Zone. This array of crack stations spans an ecological boundary, for which students will experience the challenges of both volcanic desert and sub-rain forest field conditions in a relatively small area. Methods include tape-measure, optical leveling, identifying sources of error, and statistical methods for estimating uncertainties.

Students will obtain kinematic GPS (kGPS) data for several transects of the volcanically active Pu’u O’o area (the source of lava currently entering the ocean) and the Hilina Fault System of Kilauea’s East Rift Zone, a series of normal faults with steep and treacherous lava-covered scarps exceeding several tens-of-meters in height. These data will be used to characterize regional-scale tectonic behavior and stability of the Kilauea’s south flank.

Students will have opportunities to observe lava entering the ocean and, depending on conditions, directly sample lava (with a quenched age of zero) with a hammer.

Physical Demands

Field work will involve working in rugged and steep terrain covered with fresh lava fields (sharp, jagged, and unstable surfaces). Some activities may include long hikes of considerable length over challenging terrain. Students are expected to be physically and mentally prepared to work in these conditions.


Lodging for the program will be in dormitory-style setting at Kileaua Military Camp (KMC) on the edge of Kileaua caldera and a short walk to the USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory. Necessary data compilation and analysis and report-writing will be based out of KMC. KMC hosts a cafeteria, snack bar, general store, and laundry facilities.


Weather on the Big Island of Hawaii is somewhat unpredictable, but is generally warm in the summer with typical highs in 70’s and 80's(F) and lows in the 60’s.  Students should expect variations of rain, mist, and clear skies on a daily basis.


(Students can purchase this book in the HVO Bookstore during initial fieldtrip, ~ $20)

Geological Field Guide: Kilauea Volcano, R.W. Hazlett, Hawaii Pacific Parks Association, 162 pp., 1993.

GEOL 412 Packing List – Field Camp in Hawaii

Field equipment

1 geology hammer

1 Brunton compass

1 10x hand lens

1 waterproof field notebook

1 waterproof pen

1 fine point sharpie pen

5 clear plastic sheet protectors

1 clipboard, with cover

1 6-inch ruler

1 set colored pencils

1 hand-held GPS unit

1 calculator

1 laptop computer

1 headlamp or flashlight

1 small field backpack

1 insulated lunch bag

1 camera

2 water bottles

1 first-aid kit with the following:


Gauze pads

Medical tape




Field clothing

1 rain jacket

1 pair of sturdy and supportive field boots (for traversing fresh lava, treacherous terrain, and long distances)

1 pair of work gloves with leather palms

1 fleece or thermal jacket

2 field shirts, long-sleeve (protection from sun)

3 pairs of field shorts

2 pairs of field pants

7 pairs of field socks

1 Hat, full-brim (protection from sun)

1 pair sunglasses

Sunscreen and lip balm


Application and deposit of $500 online. BHNSFS reserves the right to cancel the camp if the minimum enrollment is not reached. The full deposit will be refunded in this case, and applicants will be notified via email.

For more information Contact:


Dr. Nuri Uzunlar, Director -  BHNSFS


Geology and Geological Engineering Department

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


Faculty: Dr's, Tim Masterlark, Nuri Uzunlar, SDSMT, Cheryl Gansecki (University of Hawaii, Hilo) and  HVO scientists.

 Back to main page