Aloha! Greetings from Hawaii! Prepare yourself for a bumper, geo-heavy slab of Hawaiian fun-facts. Don’t make me define “fun” or “facts”…

  1. The Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian: Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands (Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii), several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 2,400 km from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. In short, this archipelago is massive, although it’s location, near the centre of the vast Pacific Ocean (3,000 km from the nearest continent), makes it seem small. Interestingly, from east to west, Hawaii is the widest state in the United States!
  1. The Hawaiian Islands were formerly known to Europeans and Americans as the “Sandwich Islands“, a name chosen by James Cook in honour of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name is derived from the name of the largest island, Hawaii Island, which home to Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Kilauea volcanoes.
  1. The Hawaiian Islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian–Emperor Seamount Chain, formed by volcanic activity as the Pacific Plate drifted north-westwards, at a rate of c. 51 km per million years, over a hotspot in the Earth’s mantle. Thus, the southeast island is the youngest (Hawai’i initiated at 0.4 Ma or in the Pleistocene) volcanically active, whereas those towards the northwest are older (Kure Atoll is c. 28 Ma or in the Late Oligocene), inactive and typically smaller, due to longer exposure to erosion. Check out this video. The age of the archipelago has been estimated using potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating methods. The only active volcanism in the last 200 years has been on the south-easternmost island, HawaiʻI; however, further to the southeast is the submerged but actively growing submarine volcano, Loʻihi.
  1. Because of its continuous volcanic eruptions, Hawai’i is the only state in the US to have an increasing land area. Hawai’i (Big Island) grows by roughly 0.2 km2 each year due to lava flows sourced from Kilauea. This isn’t actually that much when you think about it.
  1. Almost all of the magma of the hotspot has the composition of basalt, and so the Hawaiian volcanoes are composed almost entirely of this igneous rock. There is very little coarser-grained gabbro and diabase. Nephelinite, a fine-grained or aphanitic igneous rock made up almost entirely of nepheline and clinopyroxene, is exposed on the islands but is extremely rare. The majority of eruptions in Hawaiʻi are ‘Hawaiian-type’ eruptions because basaltic magma is relatively fluid compared with magmas typically involved in more explosive eruptions, such as the andesitic magmas that produce some of the spectacular and dangerous eruptions around the margins of the Pacific basin. See here the rather more racy, Kamoamo fissure eruption that occurred in 2011.
  1. The Hawaiian Islands have many earthquakes, generally caused by volcanic activity. On October 15th 2006, there was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake off the NW coast of the island of Hawaii, near the Kona area of Big Island. The initial earthquake was followed approximately five minutes later by a magnitude 5.7 aftershock. Minor-to-moderate damage was reported on most of the Big Island, including several rockslides that blocked major roads. The earthquake was felt as far away as Honolulu, Oahu, c. 240 km from the epicentre. No deaths or life-threatening injuries were reported.
  1. The history of Hawaii describes the era of human settlements in the Hawaiian Islands. That history begins sometime between 124 and 800 AD, with some theories dating the earliest Polynesian settlements to the 10th Around 1200, Tahitian explorers found and began settling the area. This began the rise of the Hawaiian civilization. It remained isolated from the rest of the world for another 500 years. 500. Years.
  1. Europeans, led by British explorer James Cook, arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Within five years European military technology helped Kamehameha I conquer and unify the islands for the first time; establishing the Kingdom of Hawaii.
  1. American immigration began almost immediately after European contact, led by Protestant missionaries. American farmers began cultivating sugar, with their methods of plantation farming required substantial labour. As a result, waves of permanent immigrants came from Japan, China and the Philippines to work in the fields.
  1. The population boom meant that many of the native population succumbed to disease, declining from 300,000 in the 1770s to 24,000 in 1920. Americans within the kingdom government rewrote the constitution, severely curtailing the power of King “David” Kalākaua, and the rights of Native Hawaiians and Asian citizens to vote. Queen Liliuokalani attempted to restore royal powers in 1893 and was overthrown by businessmen with help from the US military. The Republic of Hawaii was formed for a short time until the government agreed to join the US in 1898 as the Territory of Hawaii. In 1959 the islands became the state of Hawaii of the United States. This story is quite sad, I think.
  1. The word Hawai’i is from the Proto-Polynesian ‘hawaiki’, meaning “place of the gods” or “homeland”. Hawaii’s nickname is the ‘Aloha State’. The word ‘aloha’ is derived from the Proto-Polynesian, ‘alofa’, and its meanings include “love,” “compassion,” and “mercy”. Aloha is used both as “hello” and “goodbye”.
  1. Born in Hawaii, Barack Obama is the only president from outside the continental United States. Please come back Barack. We need you.
  1. Hawaii is the most isolated population centre on the face of the earth, lying 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China, and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.
  1. More than one-third of the world’s commercial supply of pineapples comes from Hawaii. I like pineapple. Although it has NO PLACE ON A PIZZA.
  1. There are only 12(!) letters in the Hawaiian alphabet. There are the standard five vowels (A, E, I, O, U) but only seven consonants (H, K, L, M, N, P, W).
  1. Hawaii was the 50th state admitted to the union on August 20th, 1959. See fact 10.
  1. There are no racial or ethnic majorities in Hawaii. Everyone is a minority. Caucasians (Haoles) constitute c. 34%; Japanese-American c. 32%; Filipino-American c. 16% and Chinese-American c. 5%. It is very difficult to determine racial identification as most of the population has some mixture of ethnicities. Amen to that.
  1. Hawaii has lost more wildlife species and has more endangered species than any other state in the US, principally due to the introduction of non-native, invasive species brought in by immigrants through the ages. For example, c. 70% of the state’s native birds are extinct and the rest are listed as being in danger of becoming extinct.
  2. Hawaii was the first US state to ban plastic bags. In July 2015, Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island, joined the other Hawaiian islands and banned plastic bags from their stores.
  1. The eight horizontal stripes on Hawaii’s flag represent each of the state’s main islands. In the upper-left corner of the flag is a small version of Britain’s flag that honours British captain George Vancouver, who gave Hawaii its first flag in 1794.
  1. The highest sea cliffs in the world are on Moloka’i. These cliffs tower >1 km above the Pacific Ocean!
  1. Hawaii is one of four states to have outlawed billboards (the others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont). Random.

When vlogs go bad. Hawaiian style. v.2.0.

It’s been a very busy few days out here in the Hawaiian Islands. Island hopping to get some hot, sticky, viscous fluid action, giving a talk at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and sampling the local food and drink whilst watching Lady Gaga. Seriously. Anyway, as threatened, see here a short(ish) (i.e. 15 minutes long) ‘vlog‘ of my trip out to see the basalt plateau and infamous lava tube sea entry point, just west of Kalapana.

Aside from the poor production, there are so many things wrong about this video. The sloppy, uncertain presentational style, the woeful terminology as pertains to igneous processes and products, even the music choice. The wind was so strong on the exposed basalt plateau west of Kalapana that much of the related audio is unintelligible. No bad thing, perhaps. And there’s shots of clouds, which I think are very beautiful in their own right and, in this video, when they part, afford an incredible view of the volcanic terrain below. Anyway, see what you think. Tomorrow I’m going to try and get back on the blogging horse and post a photo-record of what I got up to on Kilauea; my phones limited memory killed my plans of an all-day vlog…


Pahoehoe. Pronounced /pəˈhoʊ.iːˈhoʊ.iː/, this word comes from the Hawaiian [paːˈhoweˈhowe], meaning “smooth, unbroken lava”. It basaltic and has a smooth, billowy, undulating, or ropy surface. It’s everyone’s favourite type of lava, right? Some photos, elegantly placed in a slideshow, from the southern flank of Kilauea, Hawaii (a.k.a, Big Island), US.

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When vlogs go bad. Hawaiian-style. 

In a break from tradition, I’ve decided to try and document some of my GSA Lecture Tour travels with some video posts. Today: a trip to Big Island, Hawaii to bother volcanoes and to walk off some more calories. Oh, and to see some segmented normal fault systems. Quicker to do then written posts, but excruciating. Anyway, here goes…

Featured image from: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.inquisitr.com/3155988/spectacular-footage-shows-new-lava-flows-from-hawaiis-big-island-kilauea-volcano-video/amp/

The journey to and my first few hours in Hawaii. In pictures.

Stop 3 – University of Oklahoma

So, we finally head south, from Ohio State and Rutgers, to the University of Oklahoma…

Having spent most of the day travelling from New Jersey, I arrived into Norman, a town lying c. 20 km south of Oklahoma City, in the mid-afternoon. A quick in-room hot-tub in a garish pink bath (Seriously. I’m happy to send a photo to prove it…), and I was set for dinner with Kurt Marfurt (see also here) and one of his PhD students, Lennon Infante (check out his mega-dashing photo on his LinkedIn profile…) Now, Kurt is geophysical royalty, having authored or co-authored stacks of seminar papers on the application of seismic reflection data and, in particular, seismic attributes, to understanding the form and fill of sedimentary basins. He’s won a shit-ton of awards and has edited numerous journals, including the relative new, AAPG-SEG journal, Interpretation. He and Lennon were super-nice and we went to a local restaurant called ‘Fancy That‘, which is run by the son of Roger Slatt, a renowned sedimentologist who also works at the University of Oklahoma (more commonly referred to as ‘OU’). After yet more calories, some IPAs and red wine, and some very interesting geo-chat largely around the subject Journal Impact Factors(!), it was a time for an early night.

The next morning it became clear that heading south, towards the equator and the Sun, didn’t equate to increasing temperatures. It was around -3oC during my morning run. Heading north from the Campus Corner district, along the Heritage Trail and inspired by a beautiful sunrise, I tried in vein to reach a large park with an attractive lake; I failed, partly because I thought I would pass out from hypothermia, but mainly because I had said to the host of my digs, Holmberg House, that I’d be back for the 8:00am breakfast slot.

Holmberg House is located immediately north of the OU campus. A beautiful stone building that now partly hosts a B&B, it was built in 1914 and is listed on the national register of historical buildings. On return from my run, I was presented with a delicious, southern-inspired breakfast, comprising apple cinnamon toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit with whipped butter topping. It was the coffee that thawed me out though and the thoughts of @andydoggerbank not having any of it.

After a quick trip to a local coffee shop to circulate amongst other human beings and to check emails, and a short Skype call home to make sure my wife hadn’t committed infanticide, I was picked-up by Lennon. Along with Thang Ha, another PhD student working with Kurt, we had a quick driving tour (it’s the US, what else…?) of the rather attractive, sprawling campus, before heading to the Sam Noble Museum. It. Was. Freakin’. Awesome. Rocks and dinosaurs abound(ed), and the room covering the history of the Native American peoples of Oklahoma and, more generally, the US, was inspiring, if a little troubling (see below). During my AAPG tour in 2013 I was also fortunate enough to go to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Centre (see post here) museum in Casper, Wyoming; the rich history of the people, and the way in which they were and, in some places, continue to be treated, almost brought me to tears.

We headed back to the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, where I was given a quick tour of some awesome #pavementgeology (see below) and some very old-skool gravimetres. I was particularly transfixed, yet again, by the maps adorning the walls of the otherwise beige-infused building. Unlike Ohio State, OU didn’t have one showing all the intra-state earthquakes, which would have been fascinating given all the intense, not-entirely-positive coverage of the drilling induced-seismicity occurring across OK. We discussed these earthquakes over a lovely Thai lunch, with Lennon and his friends vividly recall being woken by the magnitude 5.8 that occurred on 3rd September 2016.

Post-calories, it was time for my talk, which was, I can thankfully say, not the ‘Hubble’ one again, but the one about seismic imaging of igneous geology in sedimentary basins (the talk can be downloaded here). The basement room was full, albeit windowless, sub-tropical and rather dark, but I think I managed to keep the audience suitably aroused for 45 minutes. Indeed, the Q&A session was intense, lasting for about 20 minutes before feeling being called to a halt by the Department Head, Doug Elmore. It was great fun, and I was presented with a lovely pink piece of Barite Rose, the state rock of Oklahoma. Formed around quartz grains in the Triassic Gerber Sandstones, it’s real purdy (see below).

I then headed upstairs to rehydrate and to readjust to natural light, before spending a very enjoyable and stimulating hour or so with some PhD students and researchers in the ‘Crustal Imaging Laboratory’ (I think that’s what it was called). Turns out that interpreting igneous sills emplaced in crystalline basement can be hard, equivocal, and controversial. I said goodbye to Lennon, who was a cracking host, and headed out on my own for IPA and tacos (see below, @andydoggerbank). In that order. What remained of the evening was spent thrashing my keyboard in search somewhere to stay in Stop 4, Honolulu.




Norman, OK

OK. Scrum down. It’s time for 10 facts about Oklahoma, Norman and the University of Oklahoma. Or at least it was, before I found n=>10 facts.

  1. Oklahoma is located near the geographical centre of the 48 contiguous states (which is located near Lebanon, Kansas) and near the confluence of three major American cultural regions: the Midwest, the Southwest, and the South.
  2. Oklahoma is the 20th-most extensive (181,295 km2) and the 28th-most populous (3,923,561) of the 50 US states. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state to enter the union.
  3. The name “Oklahoma” comes from the Choctaw words: “okla” meaning people and “humma” meaning red. The state’s name therefore literally means “red people.”
  4. Shopping cart was invented in Oklahoma. Sylvan Goldman, owner of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain in Oklahoma City, conceived of the “folding basket carrier” in 1937. It is for things like this, places become cultural centres.
  5. Oklahoma’s state capitol building is the only capitol with an oil well directly underneath it. In 1941, the “Petunia #1” well was slant drilled through a flowerbed to reach the oil pool, which produced about 1.5 million bbl. over the course of 43 years. N.B. I could find little on the reservoir, source, seal, trap, etc, If anyone has any info, please let me know.
  6. Cimarron County of Oklahoma is the only county in the United States that borders four states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.
  7. Oklahoma has about 55,646 miles of shoreline, which is pretty impressive considering it’s more-or-less smack-bang in the middle of the contiguous US. This is more than the combined non-tidal coasts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Spoiler alert: this coastline isn’t marine, it’s freshwater, and related to, amongst other water bodies, Lake Eufaula, the state’s largest lake. I think this fact is very cool.
  8. Beaver, Oklahoma is the cow shit (more politely referred to as a ‘chip’) throwing capital of the world and, every year, it hosts the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship. When we in the UK think of obscure US ‘sporting’ events, it’s this type of thing we think about. Cf. cow-tipping.
  9. The Saurophaganax maximus is Oklahoma’s official state fossil. A fossil of one was first found in the early 1930s in Cimarron County. This is one fierce-ass looking dinosaur.
  10. Norman was named in honor of Abner Norman, the area’s initial land surveyor. It was formally incorporated on May 13th 1891.
  11. Garth Brooks and the The Flaming Lips (OMG I FREAKIN’ LOVE YOSHIMO BATTLES THE PINK ROBOTS!!!!) come from Norma, OK. Ed Harris studied at OU.
  12. In addition to the very well know Oklahoma City bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19th 1995, there was an, at least to me, less well know bombing incident on the grounds of the University of Oklahoma on October 1st 2005. Time-permitting later today, I want to go and visit the memorial for the former.