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Stephen Martel

Dept. of Geology & Geophysics
University of Hawaii
1680 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
fax: 808-956-5154


Biographical Information

Steve Martel is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Earth Sciences, a unit of SOEST, at the University of Hawaii. He joined the faculty in 1992. Before then he worked at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has relocated to Oregon, but is still conducting research and writing. He is no longer accepting graduate students. Dave Pollard and Steve co-authored the 2020 textbook Structural Geology: A Quantitative Introduction. An accompanying laboratory manual is in preparation.


Steve's general research interests are in engineering geology and structural geology. He is particularly interested in fracture phenomena. Current research pursuits include: These topics are of great importance in the wise use of natural resources and in addressing key geologic hazards.

Detailed fieldwork and development of physically realistic models for fracture in the earth are central components of this research. The support of this research by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. National Science Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.

Publications List

An errata page is linked to the publications page. The errata page has corrections for errors in the 1997 paper in the Journal of Structural Geology and the 1998 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research.


Students have worked closely with Steve on state-of-the-art research projects at both the graduate or undergraduate level. Their work characteristically combines detailed field work with cutting-edge mechanical analyses. The quality of their work is reflected by their publication record in leading technical journals and the caliber of institutions they have joined since graduation. These students have worked closely with Steve not just to do good research, but also to develop themselves to the best of their ability.

Bill Boger (M.S., University of Hawaii, 1997)
Bill developed a boundary element code for investigating fractures in three dimensions.

Chris Okubo (B.S., University of Hawaii, 1997; Ph.D. University of Nevada-Reno 2005)
Chris completed his undergraduate thesis on the formation of pit craters on Kilauea.
Chris is Deputy Center Director and Research Operations Lead of the Astrogeology Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Stephan Bergbauer (M.S., University of Hawaii, 1998; Ph.D., Stanford, 2002)
Stephan examined how thermal stresses in a cooling pluton contribute to the formation of joints.
Stephan is a senior geologist at BP.

Jordan Muller (M.S., University of Hawaii, 1999; Ph.D. Stanford, 2004)
Jordan investigated deformation during the incipient stages of landsliding and the effects of a volcanic ridge on the propagation of underlying dikes.
Jordan is Division Manager - Integrated Solutions at Boeing Intelligence & Analytics

Jason Langley (M.S., University of Hawaii, 2000)
Jason explored how normal faults break the surface, with the Big Island (i.e., the island of Hawaii) serving as the field site.
Jason is a hydrogeologist at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Vincent Caillaud and Ludovic Talon (B.S., 2001, Ecole Polytechnique)
Vincent and Ludovic worked with Steve on externships, studying normal faults on the Big Island.

Michael Dahilig (B.S., 2003, University of Hawaii)
Michael's senior thesis is on mass wasting hazards and associated statutory guidelines. His thesis is available on-line as a pdf file.
Michael is managing director for the County of Kaua'i.

Matt d'Alessio (Ph.D., 2004, UC Berkeley)
Matt worked with Steve on a faulting project in the Sierra Nevada.
Matt is an associate professor at California State University Northridge.

Ole Kaven (BS, 2001, MS, 2004, University of Hawaii; Ph.D. 2009, Stanford)
Ole examined the three-dimensional growth of normal faults on the Big Island.
Ole is a member of the Earthquake Science Center at the U.S. Geology Survey.

Kelly Mitchell (B.S. 2005, Utah State University, MS, 2010, University of Hawaii)
Kelly investigated sheeting joints in Yosemite National Park.
Kelly is a petrophysicist at Schlumberger.

Numerous other students have worked with Steve as a research advisor. Their areas of interest include civil engineering, planetary geology, land-use, hydrology, and marine geology and geophysics.


Steve taught upper division undergraduate classes in engineering geology (ERTH454) and structural geology (ERTH303). He taught graduate level classes in continuum mechanics and fracture mechanics as applied to the earth. In the fall of 1997 Steve was awarded a Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching by the University of Hawaii.


Steve served as the chief undergraduate advisor for the department from 1995-2000. He is a contributor to a 1996 book by the National Academy of Sciences on the state-of-the art on the hydrology of fracture systems. He has served on an advisory panel to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited to examine the potential for near-surface fracturing in the Canadian Shield. He has been cited for excellence as a journal referee seven times by the American Geophysical Union and once by the Geological Society of America. He served as Associate Chair of the department from July 2002 - June 2004, and headed its tectonics and geophysics division from 2005-2009. From 2015 through 2019 he was a member of the Hawaii Earthquake and Tsunami Advisory Committee.

Professional Recognition


Course Notes and Other Educational Materials

GG250 Course Notes (Scientific Programming in Matlab, taught by P. Wessel & S. Martel) (pdf format)

GG250 Labs (Scientific Programming in Matlab, taught by P. Wessel & S. Martel) (pdf format)

GG303 Course Notes (Structural Geology) (pdf format)

GG454 Course Notes (Engineering Geology) (pdf format)

GG610 Course Notes (Notes for Graduate Seminar) (pdf format)

GG611 Course Notes (Structural Geology notes for Accelerated Intro. to Geology) (pdf format)

GG612 Course Notes (Structural Geology notes for Accelerated Intro. to Geology) (pdf format)

GG703 Course Notes (Fractures and Faults in the Earth) (pdf format)

Matlab Scripts and Input Files

Boundary element scripts

Curvature scripts

Photographs of Sheeting Joints from Tioga Road Quarry, Yosemite National Park


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Page last modified on: 31 October 2020