Welcome to the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology.
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology  .  University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
stripes Planets and Moon

map of iron concentrations on the Moon Lunar Science.

HIGP faculty are involved in a number of remote sensing and petrology projects that have as their focus deriving a better understanding of the general composition of the crust and mantle of the Moon, which is crucial to understanding lunar origin and differentiation. Using techniques developed by HIGP researcher Dr. Paul Lucey, we are using the abundances of FeO, TiO2 and olivine to unravel various aspects of lunar geology. Drs. Jeff Taylor and Jeffrey Gillis-Davis are also involved in this work. They are studying impact dynamics, the distribution and nature of anorthosites, the composition of the mantle, and the nature of mare basalts. Work on mare basalts also includes petrologic studies of olivine phenocrysts in mare basalts, in an effort to understand the processes that operated in magma chambers on the Moon. Dr. Sarah Fagents is studying details of lunar paleoregoliths. Dr. David Trang is studying lunar composition. Dr. Shuai Li is studying water on the Moon.

Two faculty members are participating scientists on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. The LRO payload, comprised of six instruments and one technology demonstration, is providing key data sets to enable a human return to the Moon. Jeffrey Gillis-Davis is working on the assessment of lunar resources using data from multiple instruments. Paul Lucey is concentrating on mineral mapping using multiple datasets.

  [HIGP Publications Link -- view the compilation of publications about the Moon].

volcano on Mars Volcanic Processes on Mars.

Mars has numerous large volcanoes that have a similar morphology to Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes here in Hawaii. Using high resolution images and topographic data from the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey missions, Drs. Peter Mouginis-Mark, Lionel Wilson, and Sarah Fagents are attempting to quantify the eruption processes on Mars, based on the knowledge of volcanism in Hawaii. In particular, they are working on the mode of formation of the summit areas of Martian volcanoes and the emplacement of Martian lava flows. Numerical modeling is an integral part of this study, and Dr. Wilson is developing numerous models for the internal structure of volcanoes on Mars.

Volcano-ice interactions have also been important on Mars. Dr. Fagents is investigating the distribution of small volcanic cones, which are thought to result from explosive vaporization by lava flows of ice deposits in the martian soil. These cones can tell us about the location and amount of water ice in the martian subsurface. Drs. Mouginis-Mark and Wilson are also investigating magma-volatile interactions in the form of dike intrusions into permafrost.

dunes on Mars Surface Composition of Mars.

HIGP faculty lead a number of research projects about the surface properties and geology of Mars using remote sensing data and meteorite studies. Drs. Jeff Taylor and Peter Englert (GRS science team members) are pursuing studies of Mars composition using data from the Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Drs. Klaus Keil, Sasha Krot, and Ed Scott are analyzing Martian meteorites.

Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) images of Mercury. Left: approx. true color. Right: color using 11 filters in the visible and nearIR.

Geology of Mercury.

In a word Mercury is enigmatic. Until recently a global image of Mercury's surface has eluded scientists. Conclusive evidence to support an igneous origin for the smooth plains was lacking. Mercury's mysteries are beginning to be revealed now thanks to NASA's Mercury Surface Space ENvironment GEochemistry and Ranging or MESSENGER mission. During two flybys (January 2008 and October 2008), the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) acquired images of the hemisphere that had not been imaged previously by spacecraft and acquired new data that overlapped with Mariner 10, the only other mission to visit Mercury (1974-1975). The MDIS Wide-Angle Camera (WAC) collected multispectral data through 11 different filters across the wavelength range 395 to 1,050 nanometers (visible through near-infrared light). The monochrome Narrow-Angle Camera (NAC) imaged areas with a resolution down to 100 meters/pixel, allowing extremely detailed analysis of surface features. Dr. Jeffrey Gillis-Davis is a participating scientist on the MESSENGER mission and is using the MDIS multispectral imaging to investigate the diversity of rock types that comprise Mercury's surface and the high-resolution imagery to search for landforms that are characteristic of volcanism.

topographic map of Venus Geology, Geophysics, and Volcanism on Venus.

NASA's Magellan mission to Venus revealed, at unprecedented scales, the geology of this cloud-covered planet. Magellan data have been used by HIGP faculty to map volcanic and tectonic processes, as well as develop a greater understanding of the geophysical processes leading to some of the unique tectonic structures on the planet. Dr. Sarah Fagents is interested in the numerical modeling of eruptive processes at venusian volcanoes.

For more information on Planetary Geology at HIGP contact: Sarah Fagents, Shuai Li, Paul Lucey, Peter Mouginis-Mark, Jeff Taylor and David Trang.

Text and images courtesy Jeff Taylor, Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, Paul Lucey, Pete Mouginis-Mark, B. Ray Hawke.

  Links updated 27 August 2018.

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