Hawaiian Volcanoes Field Course 2004
UCSD ERTH 170/198 -- UCD GEL 138/198

Geology 138: Introductory Volcanology (4)
Geology 198: Directed Group Studies (2)

September 5th-September 18th, 2004

Peter Schiffman and Robert Zierenberg


You will be staying at the Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) which is situated within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the north edge of Kilauea Caldera about 1 mile from the main Visitors Center and Volcano House. The facility is an Armed Forces Recreation Center which is a resort for Armed Forces personnel (mostly retirees) as well as for other non-profit, educational groups (like us).

You will be staying in recently remodeled, but quite basic, dormitories that have bunk beds, separate men’s and women’s bathrooms with hot showers, as well as storage lockers (for which you must supply your own pad lock). Although theft has never been a problem, we may be sharing the dorms with other groups, so you shouldn’t leave personal items lying around while you are gone. KMC supplies pillows, blankets, as well as fresh linens and towels.

Although the class official begins on Monday morning, our first meal together will be on Sunday evening (so – if you want dinner and a lift up to KMC by their shuttle- please arrange your flight to arrive in the mid-afternoon on Sunday, Sept. 5th; and if you miss the last shuttle, you are on your own and looking at a $100 taxi ride). Our last meal together will be on Friday, September 12th. You have paid for dinners, which we will eat at a fixed time as a group. The dinners are being catered by Les and Betty, “The Culinary Crusaders” from Volcano Village, who over the years have enjoyed much popularity with the participants in this course. They provide excellent, wholesome food, with a vegetarian option every night. Breakfast and lunch are on your own. If you are an early riser, you can purchase breakfast individually at the KMC cafeteria (or snack bar). Otherwise, you will be expected to buy breakfast and lunch supplies (e.g., crackers, cheese, peanut butter, and soft drinks) at the KMC store. Since we will be frequently in the field at lunchtime, you should bring a plastic container that you can use daily to hold your lunch. Contrary to what was written in an earlier version of this document, we have recently found out that this summer, we will not have access to a refrigerator. We will attempt to borrow some large ice chests for storing things like milk and cheese, but it will be limited storage space. If you require specialized dietary foods, (e.g., you only drink rice or soy milk), you must bring these things with you from the Mainland. On the day off, there may be an opportunity to restock your personal food stash, but don’t count on finding anything you absolutely will need for two weeks.

Bring spending cash (or personal checks, or a credit card), enough to buy breakfast and lunch for two weeks. KMC has a fairly large store for food and other supplies. The prices are reasonable. They also have a laundromat, recreation lodge (bowling alleys, pool tables, etc.) and a US Post Office. The nearest ATM is in Volcano Village, which is about a 1/2 hour walk, but you can cash a personal check for up to $100 at the store. They also accept credit cards.

You will receive mail if it is sent to:

Your name
C/o University of California, Davis
Geology Dept.
Kilauea Military Camp
Armed Forces Recreation Center
Hawaii National Park, HA 96718

You will receive telephone messages if they are left at:


We have been told that the KMC went wireless over the past year, so you may have access to the internet if you bring a computer with a wireless card. Cell phone coverage is not good.


(1) While lodging in the dorms, other groups will undoubtedly be sharing them with us at least part of the time, so we need to respect one another’s right to get a good night sleep. For this reason, we will observe a quiet time in the dorms from 9pm until 8am. This includes the porch out in front of the dorms.

(2) Alcohol may not be consumed anywhere on the grounds of the KMC (including the dorms and in our classroom). This means that even though you may be able to purchase alcohol at the KMC store, there is no place on KMC for you to consume it (because you can not bring alcohol into the Lava Lounge).

We have zero tolerance for any one caught breaking either rule 1 or 2. If you are caught, you will be dismissed from the class. There will be no second chances.

Bottom Line: We expect you to treat each other, as well as the staff of KMC, respectfully and courteously. If we all do this, it will be a fabulous, fun 2 weeks.


The course will be run in conjunction with a group from UCSD, under the direction of Professor Hubert Staudigel. We expect about 12 students in the UCSD and 8 students our UCD group. Our two groups will be together either in the classroom or in the field every day from Monday, September 6 until Friday September 17th, between 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM. Most mornings, we will have lectures from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM with a short break. After lecture, we will take our lunches and head out on various excursions, either by walking directly from KMC or traveling in vans. We will have one full day off on the Sunday half way through the program. On this day, we will go to the beach in Punalu’u.

The course textbook is “Volcanoes, a Planetary Perspective” by Francis and Oppenheimer (Oxford University Press, 2003). You must purchase this text before you leave for Hawaii. The UCD Bookstore has ordered enough copies for everyone in the class. There will be no copies for sale at KMC. Please start reading the text before you arrive.

You should also be prepared to spend approximately $ 10 to purchase a copy of “The Geological Field Guide to Kilauea Volcano” by R. W. Hazlett. If you forget to purchase this throught the UCD Bookstore, copies of this text will be available for purchase at the Jagger Museum, which we will visit the first afternoon. This is an excellent book and will serve as a field guide during many of our excursions.

Grading for GEL 170 will be based on (1) participation in classroom and field activities, (2) five or six written exercises based upon our field exercises, and (3) a final examination – open only to your field note books - to be taken on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 17th. We strongly encourage you to bring a lap top computer (with USB capability), a digital camera, and a USB memory stick for transferring data/images between computers. You will need to use your computer and camera for preparing and writing up the field exercises. After the examination, the class is officially over and you may leave, although you will have paid for dinner and lodging for that night. Most of the class will depart from KMC on the early morning of Saturday, September 18th.

Letter grading for GEL 198 will be based (1) construction of a web page of daily group activities which will be a team effort, and (2) on the content and level of detail of your individual field notebooks which must be turned in with your examination on Friday, Sept. 12th.


Most of the field excursions will entail a considerable amount of walking, much of it on uneven, trail-less, lava flows. We will cover 6/8 miles on average in an afternoon, as well as over 12 miles on two, day-long excursions.If you are not in shape to do this, please spend time getting in shape before you get to Hawaii Experience has shown that many people develop aches and pains after a few days of hiking; we’ll always have a large first-aid kit in the field, but you should bring your own personal supply of Ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve, Motrin) along. You will need a knapsack or large fanny pack to hold your notebook and water bottles (you will need to drink lots of water in the field). You will need a good pair of walking boots with Vibram soles which you have already broken in! When you visit the active lava flow, you will also need long pants, a long sleeve shirt and a pair of leather gloves to protect you – if you should fall on the fresh lava surface. A flashlight is essential and a head-mounted light is even better for lava tube and nighttime excursions. Bring extra batteries and especially extra light bulbs. The KMC store may not stock your model of battery or bulb.

You must purchase a notebook for recording data when you are in the field. Since it is likely to be wet at least some of the time, you are advised to purchase a waterproof field book (which is available at UCD Bookstore). You will be required to hand in your field notebook as part of the write-ups for selected field exercises. These write-ups will also entail some drafting of geologic maps or cross-sections, thus you will need to bring a plastic ruler (metric scale) and a small set of colored pencils. You will also need a hand lens (10X is fine) for examining rocks.

Expect highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s at Kilauea (whose rim is at 4000 feet) the weather is very changeable and it may rain or mist nearly every day, especially in the afternoons. I generally just wear some baggy pants and a T-shirt, however, but carry a light rain jacket. Ponchos don’t work very well in the wind. You will probably want a pile jacket for the evenings.

The Kilauea area has a naturally high volcanic fume hazard (mainly SO2). If you suffer from heart or respiratory problems (including serious asthma), you shouldn’t be taking this class. If you think you may be sensitive to SO2, you need to be aware of the potential health hazard. Please check with your doctor and contact the National Park Service at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for more information. You’ll be happy to know that biting flies, mosquitoes, ticks and poisonous snakes are not a hazard of fieldwork at Kilauea.

Please do not go out into the field the first day unless you’ve got a couple of 1-liter water bottles. Although the air is much more humid than here in California, you will still dehydrate walking around in the sun for 4-5 hours each afternoon. Bring plenty of water out in the field with you and drink it early and often!


Field Equipment –

  • A waterproof field notebook. An 8.5” x 11” classroom notebook is unacceptable for GEL 198.
  • 10X hand lens
  • Set of colored pencils, small pencil sharpener
  • 2 or 3, one liter water bottles (can be purchased at KMC store)
  • Hat with brim
  • One pair of long pants
  • Long-sleeve shirts (for walking near active lava flows; remember that many synthetic fabrics can melt or are easily flammable)
  • Hiking shorts/short-sleeve shirts (for normal hikes)
  • Rugged hiking boots (Vibram soles do not melt on hot lava)
  • Leather gloves (in case you fall while walking through jagged, glassy lava)
  • Waterproof shell/rain jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock and chapstick
  • Flashlight (head-mounted light recommended) with extra batteries and bulbs
  • Plastic bags for keeping notebooks and cameras dry during rain showers

Office Gear –

  • Writingpaper for notes and field reports
  • Plastic ruler with metric scale
  • Pens, pencils (sharpener)
  • Bluebook for final exam
  • Lap top computer
  • Digital camera
  • USB memory stick

Personal Gear –

  • Clothing for mild, but rainy climate
  • Rain gear
  • Light pullover or light sweater; evenings may be cool
  • Swimsuit and beach towel
  • Toiletries (can be purchased at KMC store)
  • Extra hat with brim
  • Backpack or large fanny pack
  • Plastic container for lunches
  • Plastic bowls/spoon (if you eat cereal for breakfast)
  • Medication (e.g. for allergies, diabetes, etc..)
  • Personal first aid supplies (e.g. Band-Aid, aspirin)
  • Spending cash, travelers’ checks personal checks. ATM card
  • Padlock for dorm storage locker
  • Sunscreen