Geology 1042

Natural Disasters and Civilization

Class Description:

This class will examine earth processes through the study of natural disasters and how these disasters affect civilizations both modern and ancient.  An emphasis will be placed on the geological framework for natural disasters.  We will also investigate how humans interact with the landscape, and how these interactions can both minimize and/or increase the risk of natural disasters.  We will cover a broad spectrum of natural disasters including volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, flooding, hurricanes, and tsunamis, and study selected events and their effects on human civilizations.     

 

Class Goals/Objectives:

By the end of this class, you should be able to:

1)     Understand the geologic framework, landscape setting, and underlying processes associated with common natural hazards including volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, and hurricanes.

2)     Relate landscape setting (tectonic setting, local topography, and geology) to hazard potential for common natural hazards and conduct basic hazards assessments.

3)     Understand how natural hazards affect humans and society through readings and analyses of case studies.

4)     Analyze how human alterations to the landscape can either minimize or increase the potential for future natural disasters. 

5)     Think critically about the landscape you live in to assess the potential for natural hazards before they become disasters.

 

Required Texts:

1. Natural Hazards: Earth’s Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophe, 2nd edition, 2007, by E.A. Keller and R. H. Blodgett

2. Isaac’s Storm, 2001, by Erik Larsen

3. Control of Nature, 1990, by John McPhee

 

Syllabus

 

Week by week assignments and readings:

Week

Date

Topic

Reading

Quiz

Assignment

1

1/22-1/24

Introduction & Plate Tectonics

K&B 1

 

 

2

1/29-1/31

Plate Tectonics

K&B 2 & Dynamic Earth

 

 

3

2/5-2/7

Earthquakes

K&B 2 & USGS Fact Sheets

Quiz #1: Plate Tectonics (T)

 

4

2/12-2/14

Earthquakes

K&B 2

 

Disaster #1: Earthquake (T)

HC Exercise (Due Th)

5

2/19-2/21

Tsunamis

Orphan Tsunami (optional)

K&B 3

How to survive

 

Disaster #2: Tsunami (Th)

6

2/26-2/28

Volcanoes

K&B 4

Quiz #2: Earthquakes & Tsunamis (T)

Disaster #3: Volcano (Th)

 

7

3/4-3/6

Volcanoes

Video for Tues.

CN 2 – Discuss Th

 

Disaster #4: Volcano (T)

HC Exercise (Due Th)

8

3/11-3/13

Landslides/ Mudflows

K&B 6

Oliver Slump

Quiz #3: Volcanoes (T)

Disaster #5: Landslide (Th)

 

3/17-3/21

Spring Break

 

 

 

9

3/25-3/27

Wildfires (T)

Fires and Landslides (Th)

K&B 12 – Tues.

CN 3 – Discuss Th

 

Disaster #6: Wildfire (T)

HC Exercise (Due T)

10

4/1-4/3

Flooding

K&B 5

Quiz #4: Landslides & Wildfires (T)

Disaster #7: Flood (Th)

Media Paper Due - Th

11

4/8-4/10

Flooding

CN 1 – Discuss Th

 

Disaster #8: Flood (T)

12

4/15-4/17

Finish Flooding

Coastal Processes

K&B 10

Quiz #5: Rivers and Floods (moved to Th)

HC Exercise (Due next Thursday)

 

13

4/22-4/24

Hurricanes

K&B 9

 

Disaster #9: Hurricane (Th)

Term Paper Topic Due - Thursday

14

4/29-5/1

Hurricanes

Climate Change

Isaac’s Storm – Discuss T

K&B 11

Quiz #6: Hurricanes (Th)

Disaster #10: Hurricane (T)

15

5/6-5/8

Presentations on Disaster Preparedness

 

 

 

 

5/16

Term paper due

 

 

 

                   

 

Reading for Plate Tectonics:

This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics by W. Jacquelyne Kious and Robert I. Tilling

 

Readings for Feb. 7th (discuss on Feb. 12th):

USGS Fact Sheets:  Please read through each of these fact sheets, summarize one in your journal, and be prepared to discuss next Tuesday.

Speeding Earthquake Disaster Relief

Saving Lives Through Better Design Standards

Hazard Maps Help Save Lives and Property

Building Safer Structures

 

For additional information, please see http://quake.usgs.gov/prepare/factsheets/

 

Virtual Earthquake Exercise

http://www.sciencecourseware.org/VirtualEarthquake/

 

Reading on Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and tsunami:

Orphan Tsunami of 1700

 

Reading for Feb. 19th:

How to Survive a Tsunami

 

Tsunami Visualizations

http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/visualization/collections/tsunami.html

 

Reading for March 13th:

Oliver Slump