Geology Department

We offer personalized, high-quality instruction on the flanks of an active volcano. The curriculum, while well-rounded, emphasizes volcanology and environmental geology.


For information on current volcanic hazards, please visit the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense
and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory websites.

Ready to enroll in some Geology classes at UH Hilo?

We look forward to working with you! Contact the Admissions Office today, to get started.

You can apply online or email with questions. You can phone Admissions at (808) 932 - 7446, or, you can even connect to Admissions virtually! Prospective students can schedule individual meetings with our admissions counselor. See you soon!

But, whether you're a returning student, a new student, or a transfer student, before you sign up for classes, read this important information.

New! Hear stories from transfer students, and from students who grew up in Hawaii, about what it's like to attend UH Hilo as a Geology major. Enjoy!

New and improved! Watch our slide show to see UH Hilo Geology students in action!

UH Hilo Geology is Assisting USGS/HVO During the Mauna Loa Eruption

A woman looks at a rock using a handlens.UH Hilo Geology student Baylee McDade uses a hand lens to examine a lava sample from the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption, before preparing a wafer for the EDXRF, to determine the precise composition of the basalt. In the background, Drew Downs of HVO loads a freshly collected lava sample into a shatterbox to pulverize the material for analysis.

Molten lava is flowing down the flank of Mauna Loa volcano at night.The Mauna Loa eruption provides spectacular viewing from Saddle Road on the Big Island of Hawaii. Geology 111 students have been enjoying field trips to see the lava from a safe distance. Photo by Meghann Decker, University of Hawaii.

The scientists smile as they look at an image projected from a binocular microscope.In the UH Hilo Geology Lab, Professor Steve Lundblad shares a laugh with USGS/HVO post-docs Johanne Schmith (center) and Julie Chang, as they view tephra from the Mauna Loa eruption of 2022. Ejecta includes beautiful Pele's Hair and Limu o Pele. Microscope images are projected onto the computer screen and archived.

Hot Off the Press!

UH Hilo Geology graduates are featured in the news, on the front page of the Tribune-Herald! Read the full article here. Find out what it's like to be a geologist working the front lines during a new volcanic eruption at Kilauea.

Cover of the newspaper

UH Hilo Geology is Adapting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A man stands at a whiteboard, lecturing to an empty classroomProfessor Jim Anderson appears to be teaching to an empty room, but actually, students see and hear everything! Technology allows for remote teaching via ZOOM and other platforms.

Students work together in a Geology LabDuring the pandemic, Geology Labs are allowed to meet face-to-face, if masks are worn and social distance is maintained; Adrian, Sinarleen, and Evangeline work on minerals.

Students and professors stand near a tripod in the fieldGeology field trips are still being held during the pandemic, as long as COVID Safety Protocols are followed; here, Professor Steve Lundblad works with students to collect deformation data on Kilauea.

Our Degrees and Campus

The University

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is characterized as a comprehensive, diverse, regional university. Scholarship and research are an important part of faculty work and student engagement, but the primary focus is on providing high-quality baccalaureate and postgraduate education.

Student Experiences in Our Programs

Here are four examples of UH Hilo Geology grads who were born and raised in Hawaiʻi, and now have careers in science.

Katie Mulliken

A woman sits on a wallKatie Mulliken grew up in Volcano Village, graduated from Waiakea High School, then attended UH Hilo, where she received a BS in Geology.

A woman collects a sample of  molten lavaWhile attending UH Hilo, Katie assisted with field work, learning characteristics of molten lava.

A woman examines a rock sample using a magnifying glassAt UH Hilo, Katie logged core samples for Don Thomas, and then moved to UAF in Alaska for her MS.

Two geologists walk across recent lavaAfter gaining so much lab and field experience, Katie was ready for a career as a geologist, and now works for the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Kevan Kamibayashi

A man points to a volcano that is eruptingKevan Kamibayashi grew up on Kauai, graduated with a degree in Geology from UH Hilo, and works at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

A man asssembles radio equipment on a lab tableKevan's job involves telemetry, such as setting up and maintaining a radio network that sends data back to HVO.

A man prepares a drone for flightHere, Kevan prepares to pilot a drone that will collect samples and photographs from Kilauea.

A man assembles a radio antenna in the fieldThe USGS sometimes sends Kevan to help at other observatories, such as in Alaska.

Liliana Desmither

A group of scientists stand next to a van.Liliana DeSmither graduated from Hilo High, then received a Geology degree from UH Hilo, where she worked with CSAV International.

A woman talks to school children about a lava flowLil gained a lot of experience with public outreach, while at UH Hilo, including talking with students about the Pahoa lava flow.

A woman looks through a microscopeAt UH Hilo, a Geology lab is used by HVO scientists, to analyze lava samples from recent eruptions; Geology students are hired through CSAV to assist.

A woman photographs flowing lava in the fieldBut of course, Liliana's favorite work for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is out in the field, documenting lava flows!

Francine Coloma

A woman sits next to petroglyphs in a desertFrancine Coloma graduated from St. Joseph High, then came to UH Hilo for a degree in Geology.

Fran assembles a radio antenna in the fieldFran left the Big Island and went on to a fabulous career with NOAA, as a geodesist.

A woman assembles a radio antenna in the fieldSome of her work was deploying instruments in the field, but a lot of her job involved data management.

A woman stands in front of a GPS receiverFran is now back on the Big Island, and managing the NOAA data remotely.

Research Projects of the UH Hilo Geology Department

UH Hilo Geology students measure cracks associated with the 2018 Caldera Collapse of Kilauea

Things not so hot where you live? Wouldn’t you rather be outdoors in Hawaiʻi with a field notebook, studying active volcanoes? Imagine living in Hawaiʻi surrounded by erupting volcanoes, lush rainforests, high mountain peaks, and the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean. This could be your life if you enroll at the Geology program, or the Natural Science program, at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. We offer an affordable undergraduate education with small classes and personalized instruction. Visit our Mentos page, which explains how the famous Mentos & Diet Coke explosions work, and how expanding gas relates to volcanoes.

Visit our high-resolution Photo Galleries featuring Jack Dykinga photos of students working around lava!

Why Study Geology at UH Hilo

Several reasons to study at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo:

Three geologist stand with rock hammers raised

Our Faculty and Staff

We are your academic ʻohana. We teach the vast majority of courses, using best practices from education research.

James “Jim” L. Anderson
James “Jim” L. Anderson
Associate Professor, Geology
Steven “Steve” P. Lundblad
Steven “Steve” P. Lundblad
Professor of Geology
Jené Michaud
Jené Michaud
Chair and Professor, Geology
Rick Hazlett
Affiliate Faculty
Cheryl Gansecki
Affiliate Faculty
Jack Lockwood
Affiliate Faculty
Darcy A. Bevens
Darcy Bevens
Educational Specialist

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you!