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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty-led Faculty-led: Yes
Program Description:
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Hawaii:  Hot Spot Geology | Faculty-led Program

In this faculty-led program we will explore the geology, culture, and natural history of our island state, Hawaii. The Hawaiian Islands are a unique geologic and environmental laboratory secluded in the Pacific Ocean. The islands continue to form through hot spot volcanism and offer a glimpse at an actively building shield volcano complex. We will also explore how these islands devolve after active lava flows cease building land and give way to erosion. The islands are home to a Polynesian culture that was isolated from European influence until the late 1700s. During our geologic explorations we will intertwine lessons of and from this culture and see how outsiders have influenced it in more recent centuries. The major topics or themes of this course include:
  • Volcanism- We spend a significant time looking at features on and in an active volcano.
  • Island evolution- Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands (2 million years old) and the Big Island is still being built by active lava flows, we will explore how these volcanic islands age through geologic time.
  • Surface Processes- we look at how beaches are formed and evolve, as well as large canyons, waterfalls, caves, and sea cliffs.
  • Culture- The Hawaiian people have a rich Polynesian culture, we explore this through museum visits and other activities such as a Luau; students will also experience the current cultural climate in Hawaii with the heavy influence of Euro-American and Asian cultures. We will travel to the top of Mauna Kea which has one of the Earth's premier high-power telescope observatories and is also a spiritual place for native Hawaiians. Students will be given free time to explore local culture and customs.
We will be living and traveling on an active volcanic island where there are safety concerns related to active lava flows, toxic gas vents, earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides. We will monitor all warning systems so that we can best prepare for these rare events. Additionally, this program includes long hikes across rough terrain in potentially inclement weather (heat, rain, wind, maybe snow!), which can be dangerous if students are not physically prepared, if not enough food and water is brought along, or if there is an injury on the way. Students will be educated on best safety practices when being in the back country. On several days there will be significant altitude gain (nearly 14,000 feet), students will be educated and prepared for issues related to this large change in atmospheric pressure and large temperature swings. There will be a significant amount of time spent in and near the ocean, students will be taught to respect the power and dangers of the ocean and the creatures that live in it and how to stay out of potentially dangerous situations. Students must:
  • have the ability to hike up to 8 miles a day over rough and very steep terrain in potentially inclement weather (heat, humidity, rain, cold, etc.)
  • have the ability to swim in the ocean
  • have the ability to endure long days in the field
  • be physically and mentally fit to successfully complete this course.

May 9-23, 2022

  • Big Island of Hawaii (based in Hilo)
  • Kauai (based near Lihue)
GEOS 303 - 4 credits

  • GEOS students will be given priority. Early career geoscience majors are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Open to all students.
  • Introductory course in geoscience (GEOS) or instructor permission. In this trip we will explore, hands-on, many of the concepts introduced in 100 level geoscience courses. A familiarity with these concepts and occurrences will be necessary to build upon in this course and will reduce lecture time.
  • Range between $5,000 - $5,900 depending on enrollment min/max.
  • The program cost includes: WSU tuition and fees for the 4 credit GEOS 303 course, roundtrip airfare, transportation throughout the duration of the program, most meals, all lodging, admission & event fees for group educational activities, and the Study Abroad administrative fee. 
  • The $500 confirmation deposit required as part of the program application is applied toward the final program cost.
Dr. Dylan Blumentritt (                                

Kathy Jicinsky, Assistant Director of Study Abroad for Faculty-led Programs

  • December 3, 2021 at 4pm (last day of classes): Application Deadline. Complete applications and a $500 confirmation deposit are due to be considered for this program. Priority will be given to freshmen and sophomore Geoscience students. Students will be accepted on a rolling basis with the final deadline on December 3, 2021.
  • February 8, 2022: If you are accepted for the program and withdraw after this date you are financially responsible for the full cost of the program regardless of participation.
    • NOTE: This deadline is 90 days prior to the start of the program. As detailed in the Eligibility and Cancellation Policies document students must review and electronically sign as part of the application for this program, students may individually and independently purchase Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) insurance when planning for this study abroad program. Study Abroad will not advise on CFAR policies, nor endorse a particular company/policy. The WSU Study Abroad Cancellation Policies will be enforced uniformly regardless of a student’s purchase of CFAR insurance.   
  • April 8, 2022: Full payment for the program is due by this date. If you can show you have summer financial aid/private loans to cover your outstanding balance for the program, you will be allowed to participate even with a balance as of April 8. 

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2022 02/01/2022 ** Rolling Admission 05/09/2022 05/23/2022

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.