GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 97-7
Presentation Time: 10:10 AM


RIVERA, Tiffany A., Geology Program, Westminster College, 1840 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Students are often drawn to an introductory-level, non-majors National Parks Geology course as an option for their science and quantitative requirements. However, upon taking the course, students find that active, engaged learning about their surroundings aids in understanding processes that shape the natural world. In my National Parks Geology course, Grand Teton National Park is used to introduce earthquakes, normal faults, and associated hazards. To extend the concepts to place-based learning in Salt Lake City, Utah, I have developed an in-class activity centered on normal faults along the Wasatch Front and hazards to the Salt Lake Valley. Modeled after the Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum modules, the activity pairs a Google Slides presentation with a Google Sheets spreadsheet. Students are provided with text and images of the Wasatch fault system through the slides, and required to perform calculations and answer related questions within the spreadsheet. Calculations include determining recurrence interval, slip rate, and displacement at specific trench sites along the Wasatch Fault from paleoseismic data extracted from published literature. In addition to performing calculations, students are asked to explain their results in words so that they make a connection between the quantitative data and the hazard to the local community. Finally, students combine their spreadsheet work with a scenario shakemap for a magnitude 7.0 earthquake to make predictions about when and where the next earthquake will occur along the Wasatch Front, and which communities and infrastructure are most at risk. This in-class activity is followed by a field trip to the steepest part of the fault (located just two blocks from campus) and a homework assignment based on the Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country booklet for Utah. The homework assignment focuses on specific hazards and vulnerabilities in the local community. Combining classroom, field, and homework assignments with a quantitative emphasis about the Wasatch Front helps students connect geologic processes, time, risk, and hazards to mountains formed by similar processes, such as those in Grand Teton National Park.