Ken Hon, Ph.D.
Professor of Geology
University of Hawai'i at Hilo
I'm a volcanologist and I teach here at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. While I specialize in Volcanology, I teach courses in the Physical Geology, Volcanoes and Earthquakes, Geology of the Hawaiian Islands, Mineralogy, Petrology, Volcanology, and Remote Sensing.
If you love geology and volcanoes, UH Hilo is the only University in the U.S. with an active volcano in it's backyard. It's a great place to come and study, not to mention the fact that it's in Hawaii!
We have a great degree program and a small school atmosphere where the learning of our undergraduate students is our top priority. If you have any questions, send me an email or give me a call.
When I'm not around UH Hilo, you can often find me out filming volcanic activity on Kilauea with my wife and fellow volcanologist Dr. Cheryl Gansecki. We produce educational films about the eruption that are shown in the theater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A lot of our footage is used in many different TV programs on the major networks, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, and others, as well as at a number of museums including the American Museum of Natural History. You can learn more about our filming by visiting Volcano Video Productions.
My research interests with volcanoes concentrate on basaltic volcanoes in Hawaii and large ash-flow caldera eruptions. I'm probably best known for my work on the mechanics of pahoehoe lava emplacement, but all lava flows have a special place in my heart. I love trying to gently coax a volcano's story out of the rocks and minerals. But if that doesn't work, grinding them to bits and torturing them in hot furnaces and under electron beams is kind of fun too! One way or the other, they eventually talk and say some pretty interesting things.
Doing all this stuff seems to interest other people and I've been interviewed on many TV programs talking about the Hawaiian Islands, Kilauea, and lava flows. One of the most fun interviews was when I talked the History Channel into including my entire volcanology class in a program called SUICIDE MISSIONS: VOLCANOLOGISTS. The students were totally stoked and were good on camera.
Prior to coming to UH Hilo, I worked for 15 years at the US Geological Survey in the Volcano Hazards Program, including 3 years at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. During my tenure at HVO the town of Kalapana was over run by lava and I was intimately involved with monitoring the progress of lava flows and evacuating residents. This experience had a profound effect on me and made me much more interested in making science more applicable to people.
During August 2012, I was a co-convenor of the AGU Chapman Conference titled Hawaiian Volcanoes from Source to Surface. This conference was held to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and brought together researchers from around the world to discuss the state of knowledge about Hawaiian volcanisim.