Geologic Hazards

Discipline: Environmental Science
Instructor: Tyner
Credits: 3

Field Work: Day 2 - Thursday, 28 January | Japan Download Syllabus

Geologic hazards have been present throughout geologic time and will persist until the Earth’s demise billions of years in the future.  In this course, you will learn about the drivers of geologic hazards and the risks they pose to humans and the environment.  Topics include: Plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism, asteroid impacts, tsunamis, landslides, coastal erosion, inundation, land subsidence, sink holes, flooding, hurricanes, climate change, and their impacts.  Some geologic hazards can be actively managed, others can be avoided geographically by the wealthy, and others are largely uncontrollable, but a quantitative understanding of the hazards is a first step towards making rational decisions to mitigate the risks.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 2 - Thursday, 28 January

We are planning a site visit in and around Kobe, Japan to see first-hand the damage that can result from a large earthquake applied to an urban infrastructure. This will begin with a visit to the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution, a participatory museum devoted to the Great Hanshin earthquake that struck Kobe on the morning of 17 Jan. 1995. As we travel through the city and its parks dedicated to remembering the 1995 earthquake, we will see the toll it laid upon the city and its people. Generally the newest buildings that were built under the strictest earthquake based codes fared quite well, and among the older structures many were reduced to rubble. Of course the cost of constructing earthquake-resistant buildings is not insignificant. How widely and how strict should earthquake codes be throughout the world geographically and economically?

Academic Objectives:
1. Garner empathy for the peoples of natural disasters
2. Learn about the short term environmental and logistical difficulties following a significant geologic event
3. See how different scientific, engineering, and planning approaches can moderate specific geologic risks