Products and Processes of Volcanism: Hawai'i

Test your field skills alongside Hawaiian lava flows!

Volcanism is of one of the most dynamic natural processes with long-term effects to the environment and has a fundamental role in the evolution of planetary systems. As with other geological processes, volcanism leaves characteristic records in the rocks that can be used to gain insights on eruption mechanisms and processes. Studying the distribution patterns of recent volcanic products and linking these patterns to known processes is critical for developing effective hazard mitigation strategies, and also gives us the ability to interpret similar features in the ancient rock record.


This field course provides a unique international learning experience in characterizing processes and products of active volcanism. The course will feature diverse discussions such as global volcanism, volcano types, volcanic eruption types and products, volcanic edifices, pyroclastic fall and flow deposits, volcanic hazards and benefits, the characterization of volcanic deposits, and impacts of volcanism on society, using the shield volcanoes in Hawai’i as a field location. This will involve a detailed examination of volcanic history of the Hawaiian Islands and how the volcanoes have influenced Hawaiian society.

Key information




Spring 2020

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline

Apply today!

Additional requirements

This program is open to students in the Geosciences department. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

October 9, 4 – 5pm, ES 136

November 6, 4 – 5pm, ES 136

Student Experience

Hawaii GLGY

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Rajeev Nair at

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in one course:

    GLGY 599: Contemporary Topics in Geology - Processes and Products of Volcanism: A case study in the Hawaiian Shield volcanoes (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    GLGY 599: GLGY 337 and GLGY 431, or consent of the Department

  1. Pre-departure

    May TBD: Mandatory pre-departure orientation through Group Study Programs followed by an overview of the program details including specific group safety information as well as an introductory lecture on volcanology

  2. In-field

    Tentative schedule

    May 25, Hilo: Travel to Hilo, Big Island, Hawai’i.

    May 26, Hawai’i Volcano National Park, Kilauea: Overview of geology of Kilauea; East Rift Zone; Hawai’i Volcano observatory

    May 27, HVNP, Kilauea: Kilauea Caldera; Kilauea Iki volcanic features (fossil lava lake); Devastation Trail – should we add more detail around how these are important/interesting?

    May 28, HVNP, Kilauea: Field observations and measurements at sites of pre-historic explosive volcanic deposits

    May 29, Mauna Loa: Stratigraphy of Green Sands beach

    May 30, HVNP, Kilauea: Mapping of Mauna Ulu; Muliwai a Pele; view active lava flow/visit Nanawale littoral cones

    May 31, Mauna Kea: Field visit to saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea

    June 1, HVNP, Kilauea: Field work in the SW rift zone of Kilauea

    June 2, Hilo & Honolulu: Kaumana Caves; travel to Honolulu

    June 3, Honolulu: Rejuvenation volcanic deposits of Oahu; Koko crater

    June 4, Honolulu: Coastal mapping of Diamond Head cone

    June 5, Honolulu: Flex day; optional Koko Crater hike; work day for completing assignments

    June 6, Honolulu: Assignments due by noon; depart for Calgary in the evening (or continue on individual travel)

  3. Post-field

    Project presentations on campus in Calgary will likely occur three weeks after the field trip.

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Products and Processes of Volcanism: A case study in the Hawaiian Shield Volcanoes Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $3,733.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.


    2020/21 Tuition Fees:

    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    IDEAS Funding: Students in the Faculty of Science are encouraged to apply for IDEAS funding. For more information, please click here.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.IDE

Accommodations will be student appropriate, safe and clean. This program typically stays at hostel dormitories. Accommodations include cooking facilities that will allow students reduce their food costs, to select their own food and participate in group meals together.

This program is open to all Geoscience students who are in good academic standing and have the prerequisite courses (or consent of the department).

Applications will be considered after your application and unofficial transcript have been received by Study Abroad.

Please note: You may be contacted by Dr. Nair to discuss your application for the program if he has any follow-up questions.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: How physically demanding will this trip be?
A: Students will be required to hike through some difficult terrain, such as steep hills and uneven lava flows. A typical field day may last 7-8 hours and cover up to 15 km. Eruption conditions and wind patterns can make the air quality less than ideal and students with a history of respiratory illnesses may find their breathing affected. Additionally, Hawai'i has humid weather conditions that can range from extreme heat to sudden storms. You are welcome and encouraged to contact the instructor at any point before or after applying for this program if you wish to discuss concerns regarding your physical limits.

Q: Are there any medical conditions that would make this trip challenging?
A: Exposure to volcanic gases is unavoidable during the field work component of this trip. Generally, asthmatics or people with other respiratory illnesses will have trouble dealing with such conditions. Exposure to volcanic gases is also not recommended during pregnancy.

Q: What about equipment and safety?
A: The instructor will demonstrate proper techniques for any tools used (e.g. rock and masonry hammers). Protective eyewear will be required whenever there is risk of rock chips or dust; you may bring your own or use the eyewear provided. Note that field school participants are never asked nor allowed to work alone. Students will be required to stay in sight of their partners, which will not be difficult as most areas covered in this program are on open ground. A full safety orientation will occur on campus prior to your departure from Calgary to go over other safety details, clothing requirements, etc.

Q: What kind of food will be available?
A: Students will have to arrange their own breakfast and lunch throughout the trip. During the Big Island part of the trip, we will form groups and prepare dinner for the whole group. We will be away from big grocery stores and so all purchases will need to be made during couple of visits to the stores. During the Big Island part of the trip, eating at restaurants is usually not an option. Also, if you have strict dietary requirements, it may be tough to find these on the island. Please contact your instructor if you have strict dietary restrictions. During the Oahu part of the trip, there will be options to eat at restaurants.

Q: Will there be a lot of free time or leisurely activities during the trip?
A: The primary focus of the trip is learning volcanology. There will be some opportunities to do some touristy activities but not guaranteed. Students will also be required to work on field assignments back in camp. If you want to do a lot of leisurely activities, it is recommended that you extend your stay beyond the course stay to those.

An incredible chance to learn geology like no one has before - walking around lava flows! It’s the hottest class ever offered. Pun intended.


Past Participant

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.