4. Intro to Natural Hazards

For this unit, you will choose the topics for your two case studies, to be completed in Units 5 and 6. First, decide which types of hazards interest you most (choose two, like volcanoes, earthquakes, etc). Next,   choose two specific disasters (e.g., the 1964 great Alaska earthquake) that occurred from those types of hazards, and use those as your focus for your two case studies in Units 5 and 6.

Dates:   January 31 through February 7 – Complete your topic choices and blog post by 11:59 PM Saturday February 5th. Complete your comment on another student post and your replies by Feb 7 at 11:59 PM

Estimated Time to Complete: 9 to 10 hours total

  • Instruction — Approximately 1 hour to review hazard topics and choose two
  • Assignments —   2 to 3 hours to find your case study events; 3 to 4 hours posting your choices to the blogs, joining your hazard topic discussion groups, giving and receiving feedback on your case study choices, and finalizing your project topics.

Learning Goals:

  1. Review the different hazard topics (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, etc) and choose two that are most interesting to you to focus on.
  2. Participate   in   smaller,   hazard topic focused discussion groups   that are relevant to your case study events
  3. Give and receive feedback on your case study choices as part of the learning community.
  4. Finalize your case study choices so you can start working on your first case study once Unit 4 is complete.


1) Watch video above

2) Review content in the Hazards Topics area of the course website, and/or peruse other web resources. Do a brief session of background research on the types of hazards that interest you,   in preparation for choosing your case study.

  • Choose two hazard topics   (ie the type of hazard, such as volcanoes, earthquakes, etc) and then find two disaster events created by those hazards (ie 2013 Typhoon Hayan, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, 1964 Alaska earthquake, etc).
  • Each student MUST choose two DIFFERENT types of hazards for your case studies. You can’t do two volcanoes case studies for example.
  • If you are a firefighter or have other experience with a particular hazard, I will encourage you to pick two hazards/disasters that you are not familiar with so you can learn more about something totally new to you! I might give you a gentle nudge if needed!
  • By Monday Feb. 5, write a brief blog post (to the main course blogs for all to see) describing your two case study choices, including for each: name of the event, the date/year, and the location the disaster took place, and why you chose those two events.
  • In your post, also write three learning goals (ie things you want to have learned by the end of each case study).
  • Categorize your post according to your two types of hazards that caused your two case study disasters (e.g., volcanoes and landslides, or earthquakes and tornadoes – whatever you chose).
  • Comment and evaluate your fellow student’s case study choices:
    • Read through all student case study choices in the discussion blogs. Write comments on at least 2 to help your peers assess their choices (increasing points given for the numbers of   student posts you comment on)
      • Give praise (be specific) for at least one thing in each post that you find well-done.
      • Write one constructive suggestion for an improvement to each post. Remember to be respectful!
  • Review the feedback you receive   from your fellow students and reassess your choices. At this point, you can change your mind if you want to join a different group or you want to choose different case study topics.
  • It is to your benefit to choose a hazard with at least 2 or 3 members total so consider this when you choose your topics!

Some examples of recent disasters you can choose for your case studies (you DON’T have to choose from this list. Feel free to find your own*):

  • 2011 Tohoku, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
  • 2017 Hurricane Season: Harvey and/or Rita
  • 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
  • 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (Philippines, Vietnam)
  • 2005 Hurrican Katrina, USA
  • 2012 Hurricane Sandy, USA
  • 1985 Nevado Del Ruiz Volcano, Colombia – Lahar/Debris flow and Armero tragedy
  • 1991 Pinatubo Volcano, Philippines – VEI 5 eruption
  • 1991 Oakland Hills, California firestorm (wildfire)
  • 2017 Wildfires in California (Thomas fire, Napa Valley)

*Subject to instructor approval

GEOS 380