UH students set off to explore uncharted volcanic zones off Kaho’olawe

UH students set off to explore uncharted volcanic zones off Kaho’olawe

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ten undergraduate students from across the nation are embarking on an ocean expedition this summer.

Their goal: To study the tropical volcanic islands and surrounding marine environments – an opportunity not many get to experience.

The student researchers departed on the UH Manoa research vessel, Kilo Moana, for three days to study a previously unsampled submarine volcanic rift zone west of Kaho‘olawe, Hawaii.

“Among this group of rising students are our future volcanologists, geophysicists, and environmental scientists and engineers,” said Bridget Smith-Konter, program coordinator.

The students were selected from a pool of more than 300 applicants to participate in the summer research program put on by UH’s Department of Earth Sciences.

“Most of the undergraduates across the nation and in Hawaii don’t really get to go out on a research vessel like this to get this experience of being a part of going out and sampling data on one of these ships,” said Jasper Konter, chief scientist of the program.

“There’s maybe only about 20 ships in this nation that do this type of work,” he added.

The student-focused research aims to collect a range of rock samples from the nearby seafloor to improve data on rock chemistry, volcanic history and age estimates of the rift zone.

“It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lot of us, said Catharine Creadick, a student at UH Manoa. “It’s important to have hands-on experience to know where data comes from and the process to get there.”

After their return, the remainder of the nine-week internship will be spent conducting a wide range of original research on topics such as Hawaiian volcanoes, coastal environments and the modeling of Earth processes.

The program seeks to increase participation in STEM by underrepresented groups. It has been funded for three years by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates.

"[The students] represent a vibrant and diverse cohort of undergraduate students from across the country,” said Paul Wessel, director of the program. “They are a smart and hard-working group and are very excited to be spending their summer in Hawaii.”

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