TITLE: Geological Hazards
PREREQUISITES: GEOS 101, 120, 160, or permission of instructor
MEETING TIME: Asynchronous

INSTRUCTOR: Jessica F. Larsen
OFFICE LOCATION: room 344 Reichardt Building, UAF
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment, either online or in person


Survey of natural hazards and the disasters they cause, with emphasis on geological hazards in Alaska. We will investigate hazardous phenomena, prediction and mitigation. Topics to include: earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, weather/ climate, and asteroid impacts. Provides a foundation in basic geological hazards related to science, suitable for use in teaching, communications, policy, and emergency management careers.


This course will create a learning community devoted to understanding different aspects of the science behind natural hazards, their causes, and monitoring and mitigating impacts to people. The course is particularly well suited to students seeking careers in teaching, journalism or science writing, sociology, political science, public policy, emergency management, and business. A primary objective is to give students a working knowledge of the science behind natural hazards, to help them better prepare for their chosen careers.

To meet this goal, the course objectives are:

  1. Explore major types of geologic and climate/weather related hazards, and the geoscience behind their causes.
  2. Explore ways people monitor and mitigate the effects of hazards.
  3. Create “case studies” synthesizing the basic science, monitoring, mitigation, and impacts on people from a recent natural disaster.
  4. Analyze individual, family, and community preparedness.
  5. Create an educational product that can be used to teach others about hazards in communities of interest to each student.


Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the basic science behind two geologic and climate/weather related natural hazards (i.e. as a teacher instructing his/her pupils) of their choice
  • Appraise modern methods used to help mitigate the negative impacts (disasters) that can come from natural hazards
  • Construct case studies that synthesize basic science, monitoring, mitigation strategies, populations at risk, and outcomes based on recent disasters of the student’s choice
  • Apply retrospective analysis by discussing mitigation strategies that worked and those that failed during recent natural disasters.
  • Assess individual and community preparedness and vulnerabilities to a given hazard
  • Create an informative, educational product that synthesizes what you learned, and contributes a tool that could be used to inform others about a hazard that could impact their community.


Required reading materials will comprise freely available online sources and/or PDF files that can be downloaded.


Students must have access to a computer and the internet. Students also must ensure that their web browser and all necessary plugins for viewing animations are up to date and functional.


The course will be conducted online. Instructional methods will include video lectures introducing each unit or assignment and online materials and resources: reading assignments; simulation programs (e.g., Virtual Earthquake); disaster mitigation games (e.g., Stop Disasters!); modules from other agencies, such as FEMA and the UCAR MetEd program. Assessments will include short quizzes, discussion posts and comments, computer and online-based activities focused on basic science topics (e.g., Plate Boundaries in Google Earth), and case studies crafted by students focused on two specific recent disasters of choice. The capstone project will involve crafting an information product (e.g., video, comic book) that could be used for teaching others about a hazard of choice that could affect their community, including basic science, hazard information, monitoring, mitigation/preparedness, and recommendations for improvements.


Students are expected to participate in class discussions at least twice a week. The discussions will take place in the course blogs. Students will be expected to post blogs and to comment on other student’s posts.

Late Work Policy

Points will be taken off for work turned in late: 1-3 days: -10%; 4-7 days late: -20% . 8 to 14 days late:   -30%. Work more than 14 days late will not be accepted unless students have a valid excuse, with documentation (e.g. medical issues, family emergencies, etc). Students must contact instructor before due date for extensions due to valid excuses. There are exceptions to the rule for Units 4, 7, and 9 where timeliness is critical to your and other student learning outcomes.

Academic Integrity

As described by UAF, scholastic dishonesty constitutes a violation of the university rules and regulations and is punishable according to the procedures outlined by UAF. Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on an exam, plagiarism, and collusion. Cheating includes providing answers to or taking answers from another student. Plagiarism includes use of another author’s words or arguments without attribution. Collusion includes unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work for fulfillment of any course requirement. Scholastic dishonesty is punishable by removal from the course and a grade of “F.” For more information go to Student Code of Conduct.


Event of the Week, Case Study choices, and blog posts related to the Preparedness and Capstone units will be submitted directly to the discussion board in the WordPress course website. These contributions will be publicly available, but grading and instructor assessment of student work will be done in private using Canvas. Basic assessments, all other Case Study assignments, Preparedness, and the final Capstone project will be submitted to the instructor by uploading to Canvas. All grades, feedback on assignments turned in via Blackboard, and communications of a potentially sensitive nature will be kept private between the instructor and individual students.


Check your grade by clicking on the ‘My Grades’ link in the left side menu of the Blackboard course shell. A green icon indicates that the assignment has not been graded. Please read all instructor feedback provided on graded assignments.


Students will be evaluated on the assignments listed in the schedule, which also lists total possible points available for each assignment. Rubrics to be used for evaluating performance at all levels will be available in the course website.

Letter grades for the course will be given according to the following percentage scale:

A+ (100—97)
A (96—93)
A- (92—90)
B+ (89—87)
B (86—83)
B- (82—80)
C+ (79—77)
C (76—73)
C- (72—70)
D+ (69—67)
D (66—63)
D- (62—60)
F (59—0)


  • Instruction: Video lectures, Videos, Readings, Animations 30%
  • Individual Research: Case Studies, Preparedness, Capstone Project 35%
  • Assignments: Basic assessments, Blogs and comments 15%
  • Collaboration: Discussion Board, Blog comments 20%

Pacing Expectations

Although actual hours spent each week will vary between individuals, students should expect to spend an average of 9 hours per week on this course. Estimates of time needed to complete each unit and assignment are included in the website. Use the time estimates and effort percentages above to help with time management.



Successful, Timely Completion of this Course Starting and establishing your progress through this course early can help to encourage your successful completion of the course. Toward this end, this course adheres to the following UAF eCampus procedures:

  • Failure to submit the first CONTACT assignment within the first week of the course could result in withdrawal from the course.
  • Failure to submit the first CONTENT assignment within the first two weeks of the course could result in withdrawal from the course.
  • Failure to submit the first three content assignments by the deadline for faculty-initiated withdrawals (the ninth Friday after the first day of classes) could result in instructor initiated withdrawal from the course (W).

No Basis Grades

This course adheres to the UAF eCampus Procedure regarding the granting of NB Grades The NB grade is for use only in situations in which the instructor has No Basis upon which to assign a grade. In general, the NB grade will not be granted.


Your instructor follows the University of Alaska Fairbanks Incomplete Grade Policy.

The letter ‘I’ (Incomplete) is a temporary grade used to indicate that the student has satisfactorily completed (C or better) the majority of work in a course but for personal reasons beyond the student’s control, such as sickness, has not been able to complete the course during the regular semester. Negligence or indifference are not acceptable reasons for an ‘I’ grade.”


Assignment Return and Grading: 1 week after due date
Email and Google chat Response: within 12 hours during the week and within 48 hours on the weekends.


UAF eCampus Student Services helps students with registration and course schedules, provides information about lessons and student records, assists with the examination process, and answers general questions. Our Academic Advisor can help students communicate with instructors, locate helpful resources, and maximize their distance learning experience. Contact the UAF eCampus Student Services staff:

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

907-455-2060 or 800-277-8060

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The Writing Center is a student-staffed, student-oriented service of the English Department. Tutors can assist you in all phases of the writing process, including the following: brainstorming and generating topics, organizing ideas, developing research strategies, use of citation styles (MLA, APA, and Chicago), and editing for clarity and correctness. Tutors collaborate with each student on a one-to-one basis in any phase of the writing process: planning, drafting, or revising. They also help writers discover ways of improving grammar, mechanics, and punctuation.

Phone: (907) 474-5314

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If you believe you are eligible, please visit their web site (UAF Disability Services) or contact a student affairs staff person at your nearest local campus. You can also contact Disability Services on the Fairbanks Campus by phone: (907) 474-7043, or by e-mail:


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GEOS 380