GEOL 105 Earth Lab: The Next Big One: The Geology of Natural Hazards

GEOL 105 Earth Lab: The Next Big One: The Geology of Natural Hazards, with Cassidy Jay, Spring 2019

Death and destruction. Lava and fire. Ancient, slumbering giants that awake only to rain molten rock and ash from the sky. Volcanoes-- and their potential to cause disaster-- invoke a certain sense of intrigue and fear in most people. Still, can a volcanic eruption be predicted? Just what makes a volcanic eruption a natural disaster? What are the differences between natural disasters and natural hazards? How can geologists help the public to better understand natural hazards? The students of GEOL 105 Earth Lab: The Next Big One: The Geology of Natural Hazards, sought to answer these questions and explore the geology behind natural hazards, traveling to one of the most infamous volcanoes in America, Mount St. Helens. Prior to the trip, the students studied hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanoes, establishing the differences between natural hazards and disasters. With a focus on risk analysis of potential dangers, the course equipped students with an understanding of the science behind natural hazards, as well as the skills needed to evaluate and communicate the threat they pose. After researching the government response and public reaction in the past, students planned out their own responses in the face of disaster, role playing positions such as geologists, government officials, or architects. Then, the students flew across the country to visit Mount St. Helens in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Spending a week at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, the students learned about the power of Mother Nature up close and personal. They examined the mountain's history leading up to May 18th, 1980, and took a careful look at the way the surrounding geology changed on that day as a result of the explosive eruption. Hikes in scenic locations such as Ape Cave and Coldwater Lake exposed the devastating power of volcanoes to shape the surrounding landscape, whether over the course of eons or in a matter of moments. Lastly, GEOL 105 Earth Lab revealed just how crucial geology can be in understanding and avoiding the risks that make natural hazards into natural disasters. (Written by Marina Croy '22, student in 105 Spring 2019)

No prerequisites