Discovery Courses Spring 2017

L&S 70C Living on the Edge


Nicholas Sitar (Home Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Robert Kayen (Home Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Introduction to the geologic setting and natural hazards along the Pacific Rim and a general discussion of their impacts on current and future development of the coastal zone. Dangers posed by earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, extreme climatic events, landscapes affecting human health, and sea level rise will be discussed using observations of responses to past events in the context of analyzing long-term risks to society and options for future development and mitigation.

The objective of the course is to introduce students to the variety of different hazards threatening populations inhabiting the coastal regions bordering the Pacific Ocean and the engineering and societal challenges that these hazards pose. Case histories from subduction zone earthquakes in Japan, Chile, and Alaska will be used to analyze the problems caused by the magnitude of these events and their impacts on infrastructure and the local population. Volcanic eruptions in the Pacific Northwest, Mt. St. Helens, and the Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines will be used to evaluate the local and global impacts of major eruptions and to illustrate the major challenge currently facing the Puget Sound region in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. Landslides, debris flows and flooding from precipitation events will be used to illustrate the role and limitations of forecasting in mitigating the potential impact. Global sea level rise will be explored in the context of current and future impact on coastal areas. Specific case histories will vary from offering to offering as new events occur and enlarge the library of case histories over time.

This course may be used to satisfy the Physical Science breadth requirement in Letters and Science.

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