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Stephen Martel

Dept. of Geology & Geophysics
University of Hawaii
2525 Correa Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96822
phone: 808-956-7797
fax: 808-956-5512


Biographical Information

Steve Martel is a Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, a unit of SOEST, at the University of Hawaii. He has been a member of the faculty since 1992. Prior to coming to Hawaii he worked at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin.


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, especially shear fracture, are central components of this research. Recent articles in the Journal of Structural Geology, the Journal of Geophysical Research, and Pure and Applied Geophysics describe some of this basic research (see link below). Much of Steve's field research has been done on faults in the Sierra Nevada of California. The support of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Offfice 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 Structual Geology and the 1998 paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research.


Students have worked closely with Steve on cutting-edge research projects at both the graduate or undergraduate level. The quality of their work is reflected by their publication record in leading technical journals and the caliber of insitutions 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 that is being used to investigate fractures in three dimensions. Results of his work have been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research and are being applied to faults, landslides, and dikes.

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. The research has since been published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. He is now a targeting specialist at the Planetary Image Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona for the HiRISE camera on-board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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. This work involved both field work and computer modeling; it has been published in Geophysical Research Letters and the Journal of Structural Geology. He is now employed by BP.

Jordan Muller (M.S., University of Hawaii, 1999; Ph.D. Stanford, 2004)
Jordan investigated deformation during the incipient stages of landsliding. Papers by Steve and Jordan can be downloaded in pdf format (if you have access permission) from Pure and Applied Geophysics. Jordan, Garrett Ito, and Steve also have used gelatin models to investigate the effects of a volcano on underlying dikes. Jordan served as a National Research Council Research Associate at the Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and in a position at the State Department. Jordan is now an Executive Vice President for Kestrel Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

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. His thesis combines geologic mapping and two-dimensional boundary element analyses. A paper stemming from his research appears in the Journal of Structural Geology. Jason is a senior staff geologist at Geosyntec.

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 subsequently completed Law School at the University of Hawaii.

Matt d'Alessio (Ph.D., 2004, UC Berkeley)
Matt worked with Steve on a faulting project in the Sierra Nevada. Matt's web site illustrates some of the geology and the great scenery we have enjoyed in our work in the Sierra. Two articles have been published in the Journal of Structural Geology. A third is in preparation. Matt teaches now at California State University, Northridge.

Ole Kaven (BS, 2001, MS, 2004, University of Hawaii; Ph.D. candidate at Stanford)
Ole's thesis was on the three-dimensional growth of normal faults on the Big Island. His research was published in the Journal of Structural Geology. Ole is now a research scientist at the United States Geological Survey.

Kelly Mitchell (B.S. 2005, Utah State University; MS, 2010, University of Hawaii)
Kelly investigated sheeting joints in Yosemite National Park. Kelly is employed by Terratek in Salt Lake City as a petrophysicist.

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 teaches upper division undergraduate classes in engineering geology (GG454) and structural geology (GG303). He teaches 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. He served as Associate Chair of the department from July 2002 - June 2004, headed its tectonics and geophysics division from May 2005 to February 2009, and serves a resource regarding slope stability matters in Hawaii.

Professional Recognition


Course Notes and Other Educational Materials

GG303 Course Notes (Structural Geology) (pdf format)

GG454 Course Notes (Engineering Geology) (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)

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)

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 August 2015