GG104 Volcanoes in the Sea


This is an introductory Geology & Geophysics course that looks at the interplay between Geology & Geophysics, and Pacific peoples, both past and present.  We cover small things such as the stone implements Pacific Islanders made, how they made them, and how the geological and physical properties of certain types of stone made them better or worse for particular implements.  We cover big things, such as how the geology, topography, spacing, and position in the Pacific have affected the societies that developed there prior to Western contact.  Finally, we cover the geologic aspects of living on Pacific islands today, including how we should preserve the (very) finite resources, the effects of rising sea level, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, etc.


We go on field trips to Wai‘anae (to gather pōhaku for the final project and to figure out where the old caldera was via geological relationships), SE O‘ahu (to look at rejuvenation-stage volcanism and the results of erosion and giant avalanches), the North Shore (to study the effects of sea level changes), and Lē‘ahi (to make a simple geologic map), and we also take a 2-day trip to Kīlauea (to see young and sometimes active(!) volcanism). 


The final project is to produce a stone implement using only traditional techniques “stone on stone”, as they say. 


There is no one text that works perfectly for this course, so readings are assigned from a wide variety of books, journal articles, and web pages.  Guest speakers add their expertise and interesting perspectives.  The course carries a Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Focus designation (H-focus), and it is offered in odd-numbered Fall semesters.







Wai‘anae: 2007, 2009

SE O‘ahu: 2007

Lē‘ahi: 2009

North Shore: 2007, 2009

Kīlauea: 2007, 2009a, 2009b,



2005 (GG103), 2007, 2009