NHERI at UTexas REUs conduct research on the Big Island

Undergrads join the NHERI mobile shaker team Kawaihae Harbor at Kawaihae Harbor

Published on August 7, 2023


This year, three fortunate REU students accompanied the NHERI@UTexas team on a field mission to characterize soils around the Kawaihae Harbor, located on the Big Island of Hawai’i. From June 12-19, the students were onsite with research mentors Ken Stokoe, NHERI@UTexas PI, and Diane Moug, geotech engineer at Portland State University.

The 2023 NHERI@UTexas REU students are Vernonika Mehkyle Castaneda, senior civil engineering major from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; Emilia Wypasek, a sophomore civil engineering major from the University of New Haven, Connecticut; and Darren Belotte, a junior civil engineering major from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The Kawaihae Harbor project, led by Diane Moug, used the T-Rex mobile shaker to study the liquefaction susceptibility of calcareous sand deposits in the Kawaihae Harbor area. Liquefaction of natural and dredged calcareous sands was observed at in this location following the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake.

The undergrads participated in the crosshole, downhole, and cone-penetration testing around the Kawaihae Harbor to characterize the soil structure underground. Above: Mentor Ken Stokoe with students Vernonika Castaneda, Emilia Wypasek and Darren Belotte.
All images were provided by the NHERI Mobile Shaker facility at University of Texas Austin.

REU students at Kawaihae Harbor with mentor Diane Moug from Portland State University. From left, Emilia Wypasek, Diane Moug, Vernonika Casteneda, and Darren Belotte.

Moug and students examine a dredged calcareous sand layer.
Right: Before conducting the day's tests, the mobile shaker team holds a brief “toolbox meeting” to discuss safety measures and potential hazards. Pictured here at Kawaihae Harbor are students Emilia Wypasek, Vernonika Castaneda and Darren Belotte with mentors Kennth Stokoe and Diane Moug. Other team members are Elido Ruiz, hydraulic technician, Robert Kent, information technology specialist, and Jihwan Lee, graduate student from the University of Texas at Austin.

NHERI@UTexas REU students conduct Spectral-Analysis-of-Surface-Waves (SASW) testing inside the Kawaihae Harbor.

After finishing the fieldwork for the Kawaihae Harbor project, students visited the summit of Kilauea.