Geology of Hawaii
SERC, Carleton College
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Students examine a geologic map of Hawaii and begin to decipher it.
Halema'uma'u Crater, Kilauea. Photo by the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, USGS.
Geology of the National Parks (intro level course for majors and non-majors)
See the course description, including links to all of the other teaching activities for this course.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students should be familiar with mafic volcanic rocks.
How the activity is situated in the course
This is an early lab exercise, the second of several related to volcanoes and volcanic processes.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Students will learn how to read a geologic map.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Students will learn how to interpret a geologic map.
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Students examine a geologic map of Hawaii and begin to decipher it. In particular, students are asked to examine the map and its legend, to answer some specific questions about them, and then to answer the overarching question, "What evidence is there on this map that the Hawaiian Islands formed over an oceanic hotspot?"
Determining whether students have met the goals
Working alone or in groups, students write a report summarizing (a) how the Hawaiian Island – Emperor Seamount chain has formed; (b) how mafic magma forms gabbro, basalt, vesicular basalt, or obsidian, depending on its cooling history; and (c) the evidence on the geologic map of Hawaii that these islands formed over a hotspot. I evaluate their report using a rubric, included in the lab handout.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
Wolfe and Morris, Geologic Map of the Island of Hawaii (USGS Geologic Investigations Series Map I-2524-A)