Geoarchaeology Laboratory

Geoarchaeology Laboratory, UH Hilo

UH Hilo archaeologist Dr. Peter Mills founded the Geoarchaeology Laboratory in 2004 through a Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0317528). Mills had been introduced to non-destructive Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) sourcing of obsidian during his graduate work with Dr. M. Steven Shackley at U.C. Berkeley. After Mills arrived at UH Hilo, he proposed the idea of acquiring EDXRF technology to geologist Dr. Ken Hon, who signed on to Mills's NSF proposal as a co-PI to help promote applications in geology as well as archaeology. Shortly thereafter, geologist Dr. Steve Lundblad joined with Mills while Hon moved into other roles.

Mills and Lundblad have operated the lab as inter-departmental collaborators for almost two decades, and have helped train many undergraduates and several graduate students in EDXRF technology. By 2004 archaeologists regularly used EDXRF for obsidian analyses, but the UH Hilo Geoarachaeology Lab vastly expanded applications to non-destructive analyses of more hetergeneous artifacts made of basalt, trachyte, and andesite. The lab has also re-introduced the value of this analytical technology to the geological community, where rapid analyses of fresh eruptive material can be of great benefit.

Mills and Lundblad have funded the lab with 2 additional NSF grants (BCS-0949058) and BCS-1427950), and maintain a RCUH revolving account to cover laboratory costs such as equipment maintenance. End-users include a multitude of archaeologists working in the Pacific (see publications below) as well as geologists such as Dr. Cheryl Gansecki who have relied on the lab for near real-time geochemical analyses of ash, pressed-pellet samples and whole rock from Kīlauea Volcano.

Peter Mills (left) and Steve Lundblad (right) sitting at the QuanX TM EDXRF spectrometer circa 2006Peter Mills (left) and Steve Lundblad (right) sitting at the QuanX TM EDXRF spectrometer circa 2006

Peter Mills (left) and Steve Lundblad (right) sitting at the newer generation Quant'X TM EDXRF spectrometer in 2022Peter Mills (left) and Steve Lundblad (right) sitting at the newer generation Quant'X TM EDXRF spectrometer in 2022

Quarry Data

(with sources for samples or permissions)

Big Island

  • Kīlauea (Excel file) Archaeological samples quarried from volcanic bombs surrounding Kilauea Caldera; courtesy of Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura, NPS.
  • Maunakea (Excel file) Archaeological samples from 1970s Bishop Museum excavations, now on exhibit at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center- See Mills et al. (2008). (NARS)
  • Pololū (Excel file) Archaeological samples from 1970s UH Manoa surveys; courtesy of Jo Lynn Gunness, Mark Oxley.
  • Puʻuwaʻawaʻa (Excel file) Archaeological samples, published in McCoy et. al (2011) Journal of Archaeological Science.

Maui

Oʻahu

  • Waiahole (Excel file) (archaeological samples from UH Mānoa, courtesy of Jo Lynn Gunness, see Cleghorn et al. 1985 A preliminary petrographic study of Hawaiian Stone Adze Quarries. Journal of the Polynesian Society 94(3):235-251).

Marquesas

Domestic Assemblages

Sample Submission

Please Mail samples to the attention of

Peter Mills
UH Hilo Dept of Anthropology, Social Sciences Division
200 W. Kāwili Street
Hilo, HI 96720

We currently expend over $9000/year to maintain a service contract on the EDXRF spectrometer and must charge fees through a Research Corporation of the University of Hawaiʻi (RCUH) revolving account for outside analyses to help cover these costs. For analyses not related to the current NSF Grant, our standard fee for clean basalt samples is $30/sample, but we regularly negotiate subsidized rates for large submissions and student research. Our philosophy is that it is in everyone's best interest to analyze large numbers of samples rather than to have researchers submit fewer samples due to tight budgets.

UH Hilo Geoarchaeology Publications

Note: superscript ¹ denotes student author.

Articles

Presentations

  • ¹Hōkū Fukuoka, 2021. Koʻi from Kaluakoʻi: Geochemical Analysis on Basalt Fragments from the West End of Molokaʻi. Keaholoa STEM Scholars' Hōʻike. Kilo: Environmental Kinship Through Observation. April 30, Hilo, HI.
  • Mills, Peter R. and Steven P. Lundblad, 2020. Lasting legacies: An update on the ongoing research on Bill Barrera’s Archaeological Collections. Society For Hawaiian Archaeology Annual Conference (Oct. 2020).
  • Mills, Peter R, 2019. Spectacular new views from the windowless lab: 15 years' worth of energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) in Pacific archaeology. College of William & Mary, Dept. of Anthropology, Reves Center, Williamsburg, VA April 2015.
  • Mills, Peter R, 2017. Applications of non-destructive EDXRF analysis in Pacific Archaeology. Brown Bag Presentation, Ruthven Museum, University of Michigan, Sept. 2017.
  • Mills, Peter R, 2017. Tracing the Movement of Ancient Hawaiian Adzes through the Islands, Mauna Kea Speaker's Series, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, August 24.
  • Mills, Peter R, 2017. Science in Archaeology. Laupāhoehoe Community Public Charter School, August 2017.
  • Mills, Peter R, 2016. The Significance of the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry, presentation to Keck Observatory Staff, Waimea, Hawaiʻi, August 2016.
  • ¹Bailey, Heather, 2013. EDXRF of basalt artifacts from Puʻu Kehena, Leeward Kohala. 26th Annual Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference, Oct 11-13, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, p. 15.
  • ¹Brandt, Lokelani, ¹Lima, Pulama, Mills, Peter, Lundblad, Steven, and McElroy, Windy, 2012, Lawa Pono ʻo Halawa, (Halawa is adequately supplied): The ahupuaʻa model demonstrated through stone tool economies of East Molokaʻi, Hawaiʻi, Abstracts 25th Annual Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference, Kona, Hawaiʻi, The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, p. 15.
  • Lundblad, Steven, Mills, Peter, ¹Kaylor, Dane, and ¹Mulliken, Katherine, 2012, Geochemical analysis of lithic collections from Lanaʻi Island,Hawaiʻi using EDXRF: Evidence for inter-island exchange of lithic material in Maui County, Hawaiʻi, Abstracts 25th Annual Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference, Kona, Hawaiʻi, The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, p. 20.
  • Mills, Peter R, and Lundblad, Steven P., 2012, Eight years and counting: A review of the EDXRF geochemical database from the UH Hilo Geoarchaeology Lab, Abstracts 25th Annual Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference, Kona, Hawaiʻi, The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, p. 19.
  • ¹Mulliken, Katherine, Lundblad, Steven P., and Mills, Peter R., 2012, Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) analysis of volcanic glass from Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park,Hawaiʻi Island, Abstracts 25th Annual Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference, Kona, Hawaiʻi, The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology, p. 20.
  • ¹Kaylor Dane, Lundblad, Steven, Mills, Peter, ¹Mulliken, Katherine, 2012, Geochemical analysis of lithic collections from Lanaʻi Island,Hawaiʻi using EDXRF: A model for assessing museum collections in remote locations, _Abstracts, 8th International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific, Living in Changing Island Environment_s, p. 31.
  • Lundblad, Steven, Mills, Peter, Kahn, Jennifer, ¹Mulliken, Katherine, and ¹Kaylor, Dane, 2012, EDXRF analysis of H-3 highway project lithics: Implications for settlement patterns and exchange across O‘ahu, Hawaiʻi, Abstracts, 8th International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific, Living in Changing Island Environments, p. 31.
  • Mills, Peter R., and Lundblad, Steven P., 2012, The power of plenty: Contributions of EDXRF in building regional economic models of lithic procurement in Hawaiʻi, Abstracts, 8th International Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific, Living in Changing Island Environments, p. 31.
  • ¹Katherine Mulliken and ¹Manning, Alexis. Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) Analysis of basaltic abraders from Leeward Hawaiʻi Island. 2011 Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference.
  • ¹Uʻilani Macabio. Geochemical Analysis of Ahu a ʻUmi Basalt and Volcanic Glass. 2010 Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference.
  • Steven P. Lundblad. Geochemistry of Stone Tool Sources on Hawaiʻi Island as Determined by EDXRF. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, 2009 Portland.
  • ¹Charles Feeley. The Contribution of Non-Destructive Geochemical analysis to Museum Collections: an example from the Lyman Museum Collections. 2009 Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference.
  • ¹Tanya Souza. Stone Adzes of the Waimea Plain. 2008 Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference.
  • ¹Jacob Smith. Geochemistry of the Mauna Kea Adze Quarry Complex, 2008, Geol 494 Seminar.
  • ¹Rachel Hunt. 2008, Soil Arsenic in Hawaiʻi, Geol 495 Seminar
  • ¹Mark Oxley. Pre-Contact Basalt Utilization of Pololu Valley, Hawaiʻi: Results of Recent EDXRF Analysis. 2007 Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference.
  • ¹Sarah Jones, 2007, Evaluation of Honokane Achaeological Artifacts, Geol 495 Seminar
  • ¹Mark Oxley et al. Changing Aspects of Basalt Distribution and Agricultural Production in Pololu Valley. 2006 Society for Hawaiian Archaeology Conference.
  • ¹Jenelle Peacock, 2005, Preliminary analysis of archeologic artifacts from Kahaluʻu rockshelter, Kona District, Hawaiʻi, Geol 495 Seminar
  • ¹Serena Williamson, 2004, Source Rock Geochemistry using EDXRF, Kaʻawaliʻi Gulch, Hamakua Coast, Geol. 495 Seminar.