GEOS 109
Geologic Hazards Spring 2024
Division III

Class Details

Dramatic geologic events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis can inflict devastating tolls on human life, infrastructure, and economies, as the recent earthquakes in Turkey, Syria, and Afghanistan have sadly demonstrated. These events loom large in our imagination because of this same destructive power. Pop culture is full of references to natural disasters. (Think Hollywood movies like Don’t Look Up, San Andreas, or The Day After Tomorrow. Even South Park has a volcano.) Most of these portrayals are based on some tiny seed of established scientific idea or fact, but much of the (mis)information they present is inaccurate. This course seeks to set the record straight. We will develop a framework based on fundamental geologic principles to understand why the most potent natural hazards are concentrated at tectonic plate boundaries. Case studies from recent and historical events will be used to investigate both how volcanoes and earthquakes work and how cascading systems failures exacerbate the human impacts of these phenomena. Exploration of these topics will include lectures, hands-on activities, and weekly laboratory exercises. Occasional comparison to disaster movies will be used to separate fact from fiction. The course will culminate in a final creative or written project.
The Class: Format: lecture/laboratory
Limit: 48
Expected: 48
Class#: 3420
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly lab assignments, 2 midterms, final project
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first and second year students
Distributions: Division III

Class Grid

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