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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Natural Hazards (EASC08011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe restlessness of our planet is a consequence of the dynamic processes that operate over time both within it, on its surface and in its atmosphere. The dynamic character of the Earth System is not only responsible for our own existence, but also for inevitable natural hazards. This course will introduce the Earth System as a basis for characterising and understanding natural hazards, their causes and consequences. The major types of natural hazard will be described, analysed and assessed in terms of their underlying causes as well as their socio-economic and environmental impacts. This course capitalises on natural synergies between subsurface, surface and human dimensions of the Earth System. Hazards to be considered will include earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanic hazards (local, regional and global scale), meteorological hazards (hurricanes, tornados, dust storms, El Nino, flooding and coastal erosion), topographic hazards such as landslides, and hazards arising from climate change. The evidence for past natural catastrophes and hazards, recorded in natural archives, will be described along with remote sensing methods for documenting current hazards and hazard risk. The principles and application of risk assessment and analysis will be considered with respect to case studies. The Course comprises 20 lectures supplemented by a series of laboratory classes, together with a directed programme of reading. The Course is assessed by degree examination together with a course project and class exercises.
Course description Weeks 1-2: Introduction (John MCCloskey)
L1-L4: Our Restless Earth and Natural Hazards.
The basic character and features of the Earth as a site for natural hazards. Plate tectonics, sites of earthquakes, volcanism and tectonic activity versus areas of little activity. Definition, types of natural hazard, broad features and characterisation in terms of causes and effects.
Risk and Risk Assessment in relation to Natural Hazards. Risk of occurrence versus risk associated with impact on humanity and environment.

Weeks 3-5: Meteorological Hazards (Gabi Hegerl)
L5-L10: Meteorological Hazards.
Introduction: the main climate-/weather-related hazards in context of all natural hazards. Natural climate variability effects on the distribution and magnitudes of these hazards. How might (anthropogenic) climate change affect these hazards? Tropical cyclones and their prediction. Mid- latitudes storms and weather warnings over the UK. Floods and flood warnings. Heatwaves and droughts.

Weeks 6-7: Volcanic Hazard and Risk and Hazards associated with Slope Instabilities (Andy Bell)
L11-13: Volcanism, its physical and chemical phenomenology; types of volcanoes and eruptions; Products of eruptions (lava, pyroclasts, gas); hazards, proximal and distal in accordance with volcano and eruption types; regional and global atmospheric effects.

L14. Hazard associated with surface topography and slope instability.
Landslips and slope collapse; links with earthquakes, volcanism and weather.

Weeks 8-10 Earthquake Hazards and Tsunamis (John McCloskey)
L15-L20. Earthquake Hazards and tsunamis
Earthquake phenomenology: properties of seismic waves
The earthquake source: working out earthquake size and focal mechanism
Earthquake hazard: how do we quantify the hazard for planning and protection?

Week 11
Revision (John McCloskey, Andy Bell and Gabi Hegerl)
L21 Overview and questions (ESC).
L22. Overview and questions (AB).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This is an introductory level 8 course. It is aimed at students with at least some science background.
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  130
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 9, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The Course comprises 20 one-hour lectures that are supplemented by a series of 10 one-hour practicals (tutorial and feedback) together with four hand-in exercises, a course project and directed programme of reading. The Course is assessed by:
(a) A two-hour degree examination (50%)
(b) 4 hand-in exercises (30%)
(c) Course project (20%) on one of 3 prescribed topics.

Degree examinations
There is a 2-hour Degree examination in December.
The total degree marks are made up of the Degree Exam in December (50%), course project (20%) and four practical exercises (30%).
The overall pass mark is 40% but in order to pass the course your marks in the exam and the coursework must each be at least 40% in each. A mark of 50% in one component will not compensate for a mark of 30% in the other.
Example exam papers are available to help with your revision.
The School is empowered to withdraw your right to sit degree examinations if you have persistently failed to carry out the work of the course without good reason. Persistent failure to attend lectures, failure to attend practical classes or to hand in reports on time will be taken as evidence of inadequate performance unless an acceptable reason is given: normally a medical certificate is required in case of illness.

Assessment deadlines
Each class exercise will be completed over two practical sessions and will be handed in on completion. The first of these will be for formative feedback, the subsequent 4 exercises will be part of the course assessment. The exercises will be submitted electronically via Turnitin on the Course Learn page, by 12noon on the following dates:
Monday week 4, 12noon
Monday week 6, 12noon
Monday week 8, 12noon
Monday week 10, 12noon
Feedback The initial class exercise, during the first practical session, will be a formative feedback assignment. Further feedback can be obtained from the staff immediately at the end of the lecture, and/or staff and teaching assistants throughout the practical sessions.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the main natural hazards and therefore be capable of recognising, defining and describing the variety and diversity of natural hazards that affect the Earth's surface environments.
  2. 2. Explain the relationships between geohazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanism, slope collapse), active tectonic processes expressed on the Earth's surface and underlying processes in the Earth.
  3. 3. Understand and explain the relationships between meteorological hazards and the underlying physical processes operating in the atmosphere.
  4. 4. Develop an appreciation of the incidence and significance of impacts as hazards both at present and in the past using routine techniques in natural hazard analysis (natural and historical records and remote sensing of present-day images).
  5. 5. Appreciate the basic principles of risk, develop and apply that knowledge in order to determine the risk associated with specific types of natural hazard, in order to appreciate the complexity of dealing with these issues at the professional level. 6. Develop and prepare a course project addressing key issues in Natural Hazards.
Reading List
Keller, EA and Blodgett RH., Natural Hazards - Earth's Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophes,

Pearson Prentice Hall (2nd edition, September 2008).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Timetable
Semester 1
Tuesdays 12:10 - 1.00pm
Fridays 11:10am - 12.00pm
Practical class:
Thursdays 10am - 11am or 11am -12noon or
Fridays 9am - 10am or 10am - 11am (weeks 2 to 11)
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf John McCloskey
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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