I. General Information
1. Course Title:
2. Course Prefix & Number:
3. Course Credits and Contact Hours:
Lecture Hours: 3
Lab Hours: 0
4. Course Description:
This course is a survey of phenomena known collectively as natural disasters, covered from the geoscientific perspective, with consideration for the impact of such events on human societies. Topics in this course will include volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and others. Course also includes studies of the underlying processes that create the environment for these events, such as plate tectonics, the oceanic heat budget, and atmospheric circulation.
5. Placement Tests Required:
|Accuplacer (specify test):
||Reading College Level CLC or Reading College Level
6. Prerequisite Courses:
ESCI 1444 - Natural Disasters
There are no prerequisites for this course.
9. Co-requisite Courses:
ESCI 1444 - Natural Disasters
There are no corequisites for this course.
II. Transfer and Articulation
1. Course Equivalency - similar course from other regional institutions:
Century College, NSCI 1080 Natural Disasters, 3 credits
Winona State University, GEOS 103 Natural Disasters, 3 credits
III. Course Purpose
2. MN Transfer Curriculum (General Education) Courses - This course fulfills the following goal area(s) of the MN Transfer Curriculum:
- Goal 3 – Natural Sciences
- Goal 10 – People and the Environment
IV. Learning Outcomes
1. College-Wide Outcomes
||Students will be able to:
|Demonstrate written communication skills
||Demonstrate written communication skills on geoscientific and natural disaster topics.
|Apply abstract ideas to concrete situations
||Apply conceptual scientific ideas to natural disaster events.
|Discuss/compare characteristics of diverse cultures and environments
||Discuss/compare characteristics of diverse cultures and environments in the context of geoscientific issues and the science of natural disaster events.
2. Course Specific Outcomes - Students will be able to achieve the following measurable goals upon completion of
- Demonstrate understanding of the underlying geoscience theories, and societal conditions that lead to natural disaster events. MnTC Goal 3
- Perform a scientific analysis of data and make conclusions about natural disaster events based on that data. MnTC Goal 3
- Evaluate the impact on societies when natural disasters occur, and how societies use science to mitigate disasters. MnTC Goal 3
- Evaluate natural disasters and design mock disaster responses using available evidence, information, and resources available at the time of the event. MnTC Goal 10
- Articulate and defend the actions they would take in response to a natural disaster event. MnTC Goal 10
- Describe the antecedents to a natural disaster event, the event in progress, and how humans respond before, during and after an event. MnTC Goal 10
- Describe how natural disaster events shape human societies. MnTC Goal 10
- Write a formal laboratory report and defend one's conclusions.
- Describe the role of natural disaster events in shaping human societies.
V. Topical Outline
Listed below are major areas of content typically covered in this course.
1. Lecture Sessions
Natural disasters and the human population.
- What is the definition of a natural disaster?
- Human population growth. The power of exponential growth.
- The demographic transition
- Slowing human population growth
- Lab-Like Experience. A survey of world population dynamis using US Census
- How the concept of plate tectonics developed
- Historically recognized evidence of the movements of continents.
- Modern evidence for the theory of plate tectonics
- The mechanisms for plate tectonics
- Lab-Like Experience. Describing and categorizing tectonic plate boundaries using volcanic, seismic, plate geographic, and ocean bathymetric topographic data maps.
- What is an earthquake?
- Types of faults
- What are the seismometers and seismograms?
- Types of seismic waves
- Analyzing seismograms
- The earthquake magnitude scale
- Lab-Like Experience. Analyzing seismogram for the purpose of locating earthquake epicenter determining magnitude.
- Subduction zone earthquakes with historically significant examples: Good Friday, Alaska, 1964; Mexico City, 1985; Kobe, Japan, 1995.
- Spreading center earthquakes with historically significant examples: Ongoing seismicity in Iceland.
- Transform fault earthquakes with historically significant examples: San Francisco, 1906; Loma Prieta, 1989.
- Intra-plate earthquakes with historically significant examples: New Madrid, Missouri, 1811-12; Charleston, N.C. 1886; The Charlevoic Seismic Zone (St. Lawrence River Valley).
- A study of recent events: Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, January, 2010; Maule, Chile, February 2010; Sichuan, China, May 2008; Christchurch, New Zealand, September 2010.
- Lab-Like Experience: A magnitude versus intensity comparison of the earthquakes in Kobe, Japan, 1995, and Northridge 1994.
- Earthquake caused tsunami with historically significant examples: Alaska, 1 April, 1946; Chile, 22 May, 1960; Alaska, 27 March, 1964.
- Volcano-caused tsunami with historically significant examples: Krakatau, Indonesia, August 1883.
- Landslide-caused tsunami with historically significant examples: Newfoundland, Canada, 1929; Lituya Bay, Alaska, 1958; Cumbre Viejo, Gran Canaria.
- Seiches; Hebgen Lake, Montana, 1959.
- Lab-Like Experience: Case-study of 21/26/2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, including map showing area of significant fault movement. Map demonstrates fault propagation.
- Viscosity, temperature, and water content of magma.
- How a volcano erupts – the concept of decompression melting.
- Eruptive styles.
- The volcanic explosivity index with case-history examples: Iclandic, Hawaiian, Strombolian, Vulcanian, and Plinian eruptions.
- Specific volcanic hazards: Ash fall, lahars, pyroclastic flows, and climate change.
- Giant continental calderas: The Yellowstone caldera
- Lab-Like Experience: Analyzing the archeological evidence of the 79 C.E. eruption of Mount Vesuvius from the cities of Pompeii, and Herculaneum.
- The role of gravity in mass movements
- Why slopes fail – external and internal causes.
- The Classification scheme for mass movements.
- Falls with examples: Yosemite National Park, CA.
- Lab-Like Experience: Assessing local slope stabilities.
Air-Sea Dynamics and Weather Disasters
- The structure of the atmosphere
- Incoming Solar Radiation
- Water and heat.
- Adiabatic processes.
- Atmospheric circulation and frontal systems.
- The midlatitude cyclone: thunderstorms, lightning, and tornadoes.
- General oceanic circulation
- Tropical cyclones.
- Case studies of historically significant tropical cyclones: Hurricane Katrina, 2005; Hurricane Floyd, 1999; Hurricane #1, 1900.
- Lab-Like Experience: Tracking tropical cyclones using the NOAA hurricane tracking map and historical hurricane data.
- What is the difference between weather and climate?
- What are the factors that drive climate?
- The connection between climate change events and human history.
- Howthe planet responds to changing climates.
- Mitigating climate change.
- Lab-Like Experience: Anthropogenic climate change – is it real? Comparing the best data for global climate change with anthropogenic carbon-dioxide.
- How rivers and streams work.
- Flood frequency.
- Flood styles.
- Flash floods with historical examples: Antelope Canyon, AZ, 1997; Thompson Canyon, CO, 1976; Little Missouri River, Langley AK, June 2010.
- Regional Floods with historical examples: Red River of the North; Mississippi River; Pakistan, August 2010.
- Societies attempts to mitigate flooding.
- Lab-Like Experience: Seeing the new scientific discoveries that relate the flood myth (Noah’s Ark et al) to the inundation of the Black Sea freshwater lake in the middle 6th millennium BCE.
- What is fire?
- The stages of a fire.
- How fire spreads.
- The fuels of fire.
- The environments that are likely to burn.
- Home design in fire country.
- The history of fire suppression in the U.S. with historical examples; Yellowstone National Park, 1988; California versus Baja California; The Western and Southern U.S. in 2000.
- Lab-Like Experience: Participating in a post-prescribed burn forest re-growth survey (when available).
- Geologic time
- The fossil record and species
- Tropical reefs
- The possible causes of mass extinctions.
- Examples of mass extinctions: At the close of Permian time, 253 Ma; At the close of the Cretaceous, 65 Ma; The modern mass extinction
- Lab-Like Experience: Should North America be “Rewilded”? A case study of the possibilities, and sensibilities of bringing back extinct giant mammals.
Impacts with Space Debris
- Crater-forming processes
- Evidence for impacts
- The Tunguska event.
- Examples of large impact events: the KT Impact; Chesapeake bay; Meteor Crater, AZ.
- Nearr-Earth Objects.
- Lab-Like Experience: Making a personal review of the data that point to an impact origin for the K-T extinction.
2. Laboratory/Studio Sessions
Not a lab course. “Lab-like experiences” are listed in Topical Outline.