Unit 3: Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions

Environmental Geology is divided into 5 units and each unit is based on some of the chapters in the open textbook “Environmental Geology”. For those of you taking the course for credit, each unit also has an associated assignment. You can start working on the assignment as you are going through each unit, the textbook readings, exercises and chapter-end questions, or you can wait until you are finished the readings and other activities.

Topics of Unit 3

  • Earthquakes: geological origins, stress transfer and aftershocks, amplification and liquefaction, estimation of risk, mitigation of damage and risk to people, tsunami risks, community preparedness.
  • Volcanoes: geological origins, types of eruptions and types of hazards, monitoring volcanoes and predicting eruptions.

Learning Activities

  • Read Course Unit 3, complete the embedded exercises and watch the videos.
  • Read Chapters 6 and 7 in the Environmental Geology textbook and complete the embedded exercises.
  • Answer the chapter-end questions.

Learning Assessment

Complete Assignment 3 (in the Assessments Overview tab in Moodle) and submit for marking to your instructor. The assignment is worth 12% of your final mark.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss the origins of earthquakes, why they occur where they do and how that relates to plate tectonics.
  • Estimate the earthquake risk in a specific region.
  • Describe what individuals and communities can do to limit earthquake and tsunami impacts.
  • Discuss the origins of volcanic eruptions, and the geological factors that control eruptive events.
  • Explain how to use monitoring data to determine eruption potential and discuss how we can use that type of information to protect infrastructure and the public.


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