Hawaiian Volcanoes Field Course 2010
SIO 170: Introduction to Volcanology

On this page you will find detailed information on course SIO 170 "Introduction to Volcanology" (6 credits) to be organized September 7 to September 20, 2010 with instructors Hubert Staudigel (UCSD), Geoff Cook (UCSD) and Lisa Tauxe (UCSD).

General Information

All participants are expected to attend an organizational meeting noon May 28, 2010, 303 Munk Hall (IGPP Conference Room).

This class will run all day September 7-20, 2010. It starts with three days of instruction on September 7-9 in San Diego, a travel day on September 10, and then field excursions and exercises on Kilauea Volcano from September 11-17. Everybody returns on September 18 and there will be a final field exam on September 20. The class will also meet in a seminar during the Fall Quarter on Wednesdays at 3-4 pm to complete field exercises and for some student presentations on selected topics. The lecture and field activities are outlined in the syllabus.

The first three days of instruction were originally spread over the mornings of a two-week field class but cost and scheduling considerations suggested to us to do this in San Diego before a somewhat shortened field class. All UCSD/SIO based instructions will be held in 303 Munk Hall, on the Scripps Campus.

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. Note that 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.

Flight Arrangements: You have to arrange for your own flights. Please do not book the flights until we specifically confirm that the class will happen. The class may be cancelled due to insufficient participation, or due to increased volcanic activity (as it happened a couple of years ago). Please plan your flights such that you arrive on Saturday September 10 in Hilo (ITO), before the last Shuttle to KMC, and your return flight late enough so you can safely make the flight with the first shuttle to the airport (8:30 am) on Saturday, September 18. It takes about an hour driving time to the airport from KMC.

Shuttle Schedules: Departing Hilo airport at 1100, 1330, 1545 and 1830; Departing KMC at 0830, 1200, 1430 and 1645. Plan your flights conservatively, because if your flight is late and you miss the shuttle you will end up paying a massive amount of money ($100) for a taxi ride to the KMC.

We will feed ourselves individually at the KMC cafeteria (or snack bar) and/or buy breakfast and lunch supplies (e.g. crackers, cheese, peanut butter, and soft drinks) at the KMC store. We will finalize dinner options when we get closer to the time of our trip. 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. Make sure that your container can hold liquids and does not bust open in your backpack. 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.

Bring spending cash (or personal checks, or a credit card), enough to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner for your time on Hawaii. 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. There is an ATM near the registration desk. The store also accepts credit cards.

You will Receive Mail if it is sent to:

Your name
C/o University of California San Diego Volcanology Class
Kilauea Military Camp
Armed Forces Recreation Center
Hawaii National Park, HA 96718

You will Receive Telephone Messages if they are left at:


Cell Phone Coverage is good at KMC and much of our field areas.

Our Rules

While lodging in the dorms, Other Groups will undoubtedly be sharing dorms 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 9 PM until 8 AM. This includes the porch out in front of the dorms.

There is a bar at KMC and the legal drinking age in Hawaii is 21. No drinking or possession of alcohol is permitted anywhere else, including your dorm rooms. This KMC policy will be strictly enforced and your ability to use KMC facilities is dependent on our compliance with this policy. A word to the wise: We will not tolerate irresponsible drinking which leads to reckless, threatening or dangerous behavior. Anyone engaged in such activity will be subject to immediate referral to Student Judicial Affairs, with the potential of being dismissed from the class.

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 week.

Academic Program

We will be in the field every day from Saturday September 11 until Friday September 17 between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

The course textbook is “Volcanoes” by Francis and Oppenheimer, Oxford University Press 2004 (second edition) (look at amazon.com for a good deal). You may purchase an alternative textbook by Hans-Ulrich Schmincke (Volcanism, Springer Veralag 2004) which is equivalent in its text contents you need for the class, but it is much better illustrated than Francis. We are not using it as the primary textbook mostly due to its higher cost. You must purchase your text before you leave for Hawaii. 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. 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 SIO 170 will be based on (1) active participation in classroom and field activities, (2) a test at the end of the three-day lecture period between September 7-9, (3) your field notebook, (4) four written exercises based upon our field work and (5) final presentations during the Fall Semester. Anybody may leave KMC on the eve of September 17, but most of the class will depart from KMC on the early morning of Saturday September 18.

Field reports, data and photographs will all be submitted electronically, in two stages: First you submit the raw field data/map or profiles and your notes (within two days of the exercise, while you are in Hawaii), and the finalized drawings and reports after we return home. These reports will be due on a schedule where the first two are due on the first Wednesday and the second batch of two is due on the second Wednesday. You are encouraged to bring your own laptop computer, in particular if you want to check your e-mail while in Hawaii (it is likely that we will have wireless network access at KMC, although the cost/connection has not been set yet). We will be sharing electronic photographs and everybody is encouraged to bring a camera (please also bring a cable so you can upload your pictures or movies). If you cannot bring a computer, at least bring a USB key for personal data storage and transfers. For this, we recommend at least 1 GB RAM, in particular if you want to bring home electronic pictures. All field data reports and exercises are due within 48 hrs, shared data have to be uploaded within 24 hrs.

What to Expect

Most of the field excursions will entail a considerable amount of walking, much of it on uneven, trail-less, lava flows. We will cover 10 to 18 miles per day and you have to be in shape to do this. You should consider spending significant time getting in shape and walking in your boots before you get to Hawaii. Experience has shown that many people develop blisters, 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 blister-remedies and Ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve, Motrin) along. You will need a knapsack or large fanny pack to hold your lunch, notebook and water bottles (you will need to drink lots of water in the field). You will need a good pair of walking boot 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. Please note that your participation in active lava flow hikes depends on appropriate footwear, and we may not allow you to participate in these hikes if you don’t have proper hiking boots (with Vibram soles and sufficient ankle protection). 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/LED’s. The KMC store may not stock your model of battery or bulb/LED.

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 (Hubert Staudigel will arrange a group order for UCSD). You may be required to hand in your field notebook as part of the write-ups for selected field exercises. These write-ups may 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 4,000 feet) the weather is very changeable and it may rain or mist nearly every day, especially in the afternoons. 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). Recent eruptive activities substantially increased this risk. 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.

The greatest risks on this field trip are based on Vehicle Safety and not volcano safety. Every driver is advised to drive defensively, safely, and to obey traffic regulations. All drivers and passengers are required to wear seatbelts including in the back seats. The near-continuous eruptions of Kilauea volcano offered probably the most widely used lava viewing opportunity in the world, for more than two decades, and no responsible spectators were seriously harmed amongst the thousands that see the lava every year However, some fatal accidents are reported, exclusively associated with the coastal cliffs lava entries and lava delta that we will not visit. To see lava is exciting, but in general the familiar vehicle risks are underestimated and while the unfamiliar volcano risks are seen with more caution. Follow your instincts about any safety issue, be particular alert about vehicle safety and please do not be shy about sharing your concerns.

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!

Things to Bring

Field Equipment:

  • A waterproof field notebook.
  • 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
  • Sun block and chap stick
  • Flashlight (head-mounted light recommended) with extra batteries and bulbs
  • Electronic Camera with sufficient memory plus upload cable (encouraged, but optional)

Office Gear:

  • Writing paper for notes and field reports
  • Plastic ruler with metric scale
  • Pens, pencils (sharpener)
  • Bluebook for final exam
  • Laptop computer (encouraged, but not mandatory)
  • USB key for personal digital archive (1 GB encouraged)

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 (with closure that does not open in your backpack)
  • Plastic bowls/spoon (if you eat cereal for breakfast)
  • Medication (e.g. for allergies, diabetes, etc..)
  • Personal first aid supplies (e.g. Band-Aid/antibiotic cream for blisters, aspirin, Ibuprofen)
  • Spending cash, travelers’ checks personal checks, ATM card
  • Padlock for dorm storage locker

Important Notice: Potential Class Cancellation due to Volcanic Unrest at Kilauea !!!

Kilauea Caldera is currently closed off to all visitors due to Eruptive Activity in Halema’uma’u crater. Hazards include substantially enhanced SO2 Venting and Ash Eruptions. The Caldera is very close to KMC and has been a center point for previous volcanology classes. Continued closure of Kilauea Caldera would severely impact us, and we may have to cancel the class should it continue.

However, we all hope that this situation will calm down and allow us to carry out this class safely, as currently planned, and we encourage all interested students to apply at UCD and UCSD. This is important because there are a limited number of spaces. Our current plan is to accept applications from UCD and UCSD students (including payment of the registration fee), but we discourage anybody from buying airline tickets until we feel comfortable advising you to do so. If the class is cancelled the registration fee will be reimbursed at the end of the quarter.