Scientists will drill as much as a million years into the geologic history of the Earth to study the evolution of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, under a grant awarded by the National Science Foundation.
The $10.3 million, six-year Hawaii Scientific Drilling Program will be administered by the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the University of Hawaii, in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology.
"Researchers from more than two dozen universities around the world will be involved in the project, which will study formation of volcanoes and the mechanisms that operate within Earth's mantle," says Leonard Johnson, director of NSF's continental dynamics program, which funded the grant. "A mantle plume or hot spot is thought to have produced the string of volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands chain."
Adds Don DePaolo, a geologist at UC Berkeley, "This project should give us an unprecedented opportunity to understand how volcanoes form. We will also retrieve a detailed record of how the Earth's magnetic field has changed in the past, and test the extraordinary but widely held view that Hawaii exists because of a fountain of hot rock material coming from 3,000 kilometers deep in the Earth."
The project will produce a continuous 14,500-foot sequence of
samples from a bore hole dug into the inactive volcano Mauna Kea near
Hilo on the island of Hawaii, to better understand a million years of
Mauna Kea volcanism and basic planetary processes. Researchers will
study the samples recovered, as well as properties of the rocks around
the bore hole, to determine how the volcano was formed, types of
volcanic activity that have occurred, and mantle mechanisms that
produce Hawaii lavas. Other studies will explore types of volcanic
hazards that occur over the life of a Hawaiian volcano, movement of
groundwater deep within the vol
Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation