Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Mauna Loa Geology

PROJECT DESCRIPTION Aerial view of Mauna Loa's northeast rift zone The primary goal of this project is to produce detailed geologic maps of Mauna Loa Volcano (photo at right, aerial view of northeast rift zone) and compile a temporal and spatial record of the volcano's eruptive activity for the past 10,000 years (the period of time recorded by surface lava flows).

To accomplish this, every significant surface flow needs to be mapped, its composition characterized, and its age determined by radiocarbon dating or stratigraphic position. This will be by far the most detailed map ever made of any volcano on Earth; over 500 separate flows have been mapped to date, requiring the establishment of large databases to archive and compile flow attributes. All mapping and flow attributes are being compiled into a GIS system to allow quantitative analyses of the distribution and variation of eruptive products over time. These analyses will allow quantitative refinement of volcanic-risk assessments for Mauna Loa in ways never before attempted for any volcano.

VOLUNTEER DUTIES Volunteers hiking to map lava-flow contacts Volunteers working on this project gain experience in geologic mapping and map production. Volunteers will assist in a variety of mapping and field methods, including sampling charcoal, collecting rock samples and preparing them for analysis and petrographic study, identifying flow boundaries, and determining ages of lava flows. Volunteers may also help in paleomagnetic drilling of lava flows and processing paleomagnetic samples and data. Volunteers will assist in constructing digital geologic maps at 1:24,000 scale, and compiling, cataloging, and entering Mauna Loa geologic data into a database. Volunteers will also assist in making plots and figures, preparing reports, and other project support work.
Applicants should either (1) be working toward a degree in the physical sciences, particularly geology, earth science, or environmental sciences; (2) have already completed such a degree; or (3) have equivalent work experience. Volunteers must be in top physical shape and have a working knowledge of location and outdoor survival skills in a wide range of environments ranging from arid desert and dense rain forests to alpine snowfields (yes, it snows on Mauna Loa!). Familiarity with GIS, computer spreadsheets, word processing, and a good work ethic is desired.

Applicants should demonstrate good written, communication, and documentation skills. The ability to work with minimal supervision preferred. Applicants currently working toward a Bachelor's degree or higher in geology or physical volcanology are strongly desired.

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Volunteer information

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Updated: January 31 2012 14:31:09