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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Geosciences (GEOSC)

GEOSC 109H (GN) Earthquakes and Society (3) Introduction to earthquakes and seismology, and their relationship to society, including monitoring for nuclear weapons and seismic hazards.


GEOSC 109H Earthquakes, Nuclear Explosions, and Society (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course is a general education science course that will provide students with an introduction to earthquakes and nuclear explosions and the science and policy issues linking them. Nuclear explosions, like earthquakes, are seismic events that generate elastic waves that propagate through the earth. As in the case of earthquakes, detection of seismic waves from a nuclear explosion provides the principal means of determining its size and location. In this course, students will learn about earthquakes and nuclear explosions, how these seismic events are monitored, and the role earthquake science (seismology) plays in international treaties designed to limit proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The format for this course will be problem-oriented, with students taking an active role in learning. Student groups will actively research web-based and standard resources to learn about the history of nuclear test ban treaties, the effects of nuclear weapons, earthquakes, basic concepts of seismic wave propagation, hands-on recording of seismic waves, earth structure, plate tectonics, and discriminating between nuclear explosions and earthquakes. Students will engage in activities that will require them to learn the material themselves and be able to teach what they have learned to others in the class through in-class presentations. Part of the course will involve the hands-on operation of a seismic observatory and collection of seismic data from earthquakes and local quarry blasts. Scenarios for evasive testing of nuclear explosions will be examined at the end of the course with emphasis on technical issues and international political ramifications. Students will obtain a background in the history of arms limitation treaties, basic physics, basic geosciences, and have experiences in seismic data collection.

The general format of the course is based on a weekly cycle of student groups performing discovery-based learning with two days of class discussion and/or activities based on that learning. Group investigations will involve cooperative organization and research by small (3-4 students) groups of the class. Specific guidelines and instructions will be given to each group in the form of lists of source materials, source material on the class Web site, links to information Web sites, and interactive Web forms for creating classroom and hard copy reports. Students will be required to engage in the full complement of activities described above. In addition, each student will be required to write a summary of each activity. A grade will be assigned for the group presentation and summaries, and the final course grade will be determined based on the average grade of the individual activities. This course will be offered once a year.

General Education: GN
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Natural Sciences
Effective: Spring 2007

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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