GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 57-10
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


GRAY, Kyle, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614

In recent years, several states have developed easy-to-use online portals that allow the general public to access data regarding bedrock geology and natural hazards. These portals are freely available online and easy to navigate. For example, the states of Oregon and Washington have maps that show hazards associated with tsunamis, earthquake shaking, liquefaction, and landslides. Both states have also assessed every public building for potential damage during the next Cascadia earthquake. Online tools such as these are great resources for developing lessons that cut to the heart of the scientific practices and cross-cutting concepts found in the NGSS. They are also applicable to students across a wide age range.

These online resources were used as part of a capstone laboratory project for an introductory geology course with a hazards emphasis. Students were randomly assigned to groups of four and tasked with describing the hazards faced by one of eight small cities in western Washington or Oregon. These cities were chosen because they are close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone and are threatened by multiple hazards. Because the cities are relatively small (typically less than 30,000 people), they do not have published hazard analyses that students could easily access.

Students spend one lab period investigating their city and using these online resources to make an initial hazard assessment. The following week each group submits an outline of their findings and meets with the instructor to discuss any information that was inaccurate or lacking. The following week, each group gives a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation as if they are addressing the local city council and each student turns in a written report summarizing their findings.

Student feedback on end-of-course assessments are generally positive, with many stating that this activity was their favorite part of the course. A scaled-down version of this activity could be completed as an in-class assignment for a large lecture class or expanded to include more detailed information in an upper-level major’s course.

  • Hazards Activity - GSA Indy 2018.pdf (2.7 MB)
  • Gray's Harbor Collage #2.pdf (1.0 MB)