Description Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour; one field day. Global urbanization together with historical demographic population shift to coastal areas, especially around Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire," are placing increasingly large parts of this planet's human population at risk due to earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis. Global climate change combines with variety of geologic processes to create enhanced risks from catastrophic mass movements (e.g., landslides), hurricanes, floods, and fires. Exploration of physical processes behind natural disasters and discussion of how these natural events affect quality of human life. P/NP or letter grading.
Units 5 units
Course Days Tuesday Thursday
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Location Geology 3656
Level Undergraduate
Course ID 411039200
Type Lecture
Instructor William Newman
Email win@ucla.edu
Phone 310-825-3912



EPS SCI 13—411-039-200

Geology 3656; TR 2:00 P.M.—3:15 P.M.
Final Examination Code 15, Thursday, June 9, 2016, 11:30 A.M.—2:30 P.M.
Midterm Examination in class, Thursday, April 28

Professor William I. Newman, 4640 Geology
x5-3912; win@ucla.edu
Office Hours: M 4:00 P.M., T 4:00 P.M.; and by appointment

Matt Walker, 4680 Geology (Physical Science)
Office Hours: W 10:00 A.M., F 11:00 A.M., 2:00 P.M., and by appointment

Melissa Kelley, 3685 Geology (Diversity Component)
Office Hours: W 2:00 P.M., T 12:00 P.M., R 4:00 P.M., and by appointment

LECTURE: TR 2:00 P.M.—3:15 P.M., Geology 3656
DISCUSSION SECTIONS: W 11:00 A.M., 12:00 P.M., 1:00 P.M.; Geology 5655
FIELD TRIP: 8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M., Date TBD (tentatively April 18 or 19)
COURSE WEB SITE: Contact Professor Newman for protected login information

Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour; one field day. Global urbanization together with historical demographic population shift to coastal areas, especially around Pacific Ocean's “Ring of Fire,” are placing increasingly large parts of this planet's human population at risk due to earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis. Global climate change combines with a variety of geologic processes to create enhanced risks from catastrophic mass movements (e.g., landslides), hurricanes, floods, and fires. Exploration of physical processes behind natural disasters and discussion of how these natural events affect quality of human life. P/NP or letter grading.

Global urbanization together with a historical demographic population shift to coastal areas, especially around the Pacific Ocean’s “ring of fire,” are placing increasingly large parts of this planet’s human population at risk due to earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunami (commonly called “tidal waves”). While physically and economically attractive, these and similar geographic regions were formed geologically by plate tectonic processes that make them the home of more than 70% of terrestrial seismic activity, including earthquakes and volcanoes as well as tsunami. In addition, global climate change combines with a variety of geologic processes to create enhanced risks from catastrophic mass movements (e.g., landslides), hurricanes, floods, and fires. Finally, we know that impacts with space objects, especially asteroids and comets, have played a major role in the evolution of life, and have resulted in mass extinctions over geologic history. The purpose of this course is to channel the interest that has emerged among UCLA students in how these natural events affect the quality of human life and convert that interest into an understanding of the physical and some biological processes that produce these events. Moreover, recent events have demonstrated that we need to understand the role of the media and political forums as well as science education in our ability to deal intelligently with these topics. In addition, humans have had a profound influence on this planet ranging from various forms of pollution and excessive resource usage to the threat of pandemics and even limited-scale biological and nuclear warfare. The world today is dramatically different from what it was during the height of American influence. In addition to the science underlying natural disasters, we need to address questions of emergency preparation and emergency response. This course, unlike most GE physical science courses, could have a very direct impact upon your lives. In addition, we will explore an additional dimension pertaining to the impact of natural hazards upon humans: the highly varied outcomes that depend upon the location of these events and the quality of life enjoyed by those affected. We will come to appreciate that differences in construction methods, infrastructure and availability of medical help, food, and water, and the role of poverty, had major influences.

Owing to this course’s focus on the forces of nature and their global impact upon the quality of life, this class dedicates a substantial part of its effort to issues pertinent to natural hazards and their diverse effect upon the human condition. This course meets the new diversity requirement established by the College of Letters and Science at UCLA as established in http://www.registrar.ucla.edu/soc/diversity.htm .

This will be a primarily lecture-based course, with 3 lecture-hours per week given by the professor and 1 discussion hour led by our two teaching assistants. During the discussion sessions, one TA will focus on the physical and, sometime, biological effects associated with natural hazards, disasters, and catastrophes, while the other will focus upon their effect upon the human condition including the competing roles of politics, economics, public health, infrastructure, differences in cultural norms, etc. Our purpose here is to explore the full range of effects that the forces of nature have upon the very different demographic groups sharing this planet.

We will spend approximately one lecture per textbook chapter plus have special lectures on climate change, earthquake preparedness, epidemics and vaccination, famine and water shortages, population growth, and energy needs. The discussion sessions will focus on the class presentations and relevant text material, plus special topics of current interest (e.g., the role of the media, science education, natural hazard prediction, bio and nuclear hazards). A course website will be employed to provide up-to-date information on current events and other lecture materials. The course will also include a mandatory one-day geology field trip to visit sites within 50 miles of Los Angeles where the effects of these dynamic physical processes can be better appreciated and understood. (We will survey student schedules on the first day of lectures to identify the weekend days when the field trips are conducted. You will be asked to sign up for one of them, on a first-come-firstserved basis.) The field trip is a formal requirement for the course and attendance will be taken; “hands on” instruction is the most-effective way of learning; a University of California Liability Waiver must be executed before departing on these trip. For those individuals who cannot come and provide medical documentation attesting to their inability to participate, a 10-page single-space research paper (including references and diagrams) will be accepted—the topic will be selected in consultation with the professor and will also include a 15-minute interview concerning the paper; from past experience, you will learn more from the field trip and have fun in the process, so participation is strongly encouraged. (Students who do not participate in the field trip nor qualify to write the substitute paper will have one letter grade deducted from their final grade.) If your schedule presents conflicts due, for example, to official athletic activities where we receive formal notification from the athletics department during the first week of class, we will seek to find some accommodation. While attendance will not be taken in the class (with the exception of the mandatory field trip), you must be present to hand in homework assignments and take the midterm and final examinations. This course is available for letter grades or P/NP; please make certain that you have registered using the grading scheme that is most appropriate to your situation and major.

Performance in the course will be evaluated on the basis of a mid-term examination (Thursday, April 28 in class) for 10% of the overall grade, a final examination (Thursday, June 9 at 11:30 A.M.) for 25% of the overall grade, and three assignments for 10% each (given approximately every three weeks). In addition, there will be two required research papers, valued at 10% and 25%, respectively, on diversity-related issues; more detailed information regarding these will be provided in class. You will be required to consult with Melissa Kelley, our TA charged with oversight of the diversity component, as to the selection of topics, finding good resources for the papers, and advice regarding their writing. Importantly, the research papers must be fact-based; while opinion has a role in working with facts, opinions alone are not an acceptable substitute for knowledge. Papers will be submitted through “Turn-it-In” with details to be announced, and plagiarism will be regarded very unfavorably. Matt Walker, our physical science TA, will collect in class your assignments and will be charged with grading them, as well as providing advice during office hours regarding the science underlying the topics that we will explore. A fundamental aspect of this course is to integrate the scientific and human dimensions of natural disasters.

Attendance and participation in the discussion sessions is critical to your understanding of the topics addressed. These issues are very real and will provide the formal lecture topics and discussion sessions a sense of urgency not often encountered in physical science courses; moreover, they will help integrate what you learn scientifically with the human dimension. Particular attention will be given to the interplay between natural hazards and social factors.

Our textbook (required) are available through the ASUCLA bookstore. Our principal textbook is Keller, E.A. and DeVecchio, D.E. 2012. Natural Hazards, 4th edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. It is also possible to obtain the text via internet booksellers; a “looseleaf” version (not paperbound) can be purchased online at substantial savings. I also recommend, as an optional text, Mann, M.E. and Kump, L.R. 20015. Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming, New York, NY: Dorling- Kindersley. This book also is available online. In addition, I have requested that a variety of books be placed on reserve in the college library.

Owing to the increasing urgency identified in the scientific community regarding climate change, a substantial focus of our course, particularly during the second half of the quarter, will be on climate change. Indeed, global warming and its attendant effects will dramatically alter human life during the coming century in ways that we are only beginning to appreciate. This course is designed to teach you some real-life lessons about the planet we live on emerging from natural disasters and issues germane to sustainability. I hope that it will promote substantial thought and discussion among you.

This is your planet, and your lives depend on it!

References for EPS SCI 13, Natural Disasters, S2016: Prof. W. I. Newman, x5-3912
  • Abbott, P.L. 2012. Natural Disasters, 8th edition, Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
  • Belton, M.J.S., Morgan, T.H., Samarasinha, N., and Yeomans, D.K. 2005. Mitigation of Hazardous Comets and Asteroids, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Camassa, R., Hyman, J.M., and Newman, W.I., eds. 1994. Modeling the Forces of Nature, Amsterdam, Holland: Elsevier.
  • Decker, R.W. and Decker, B.B. 1991. Mountains of Fire: The Nature of Volcanoes, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Emanuel, K. 2005. Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Freedman, B. 1989. Environmental Ecology: The Impacts of Pollution and Other Stresses on Ecosystem Structure and Function, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc.
  • Gere, J.M. and Shah, H.C. 1984. Terra Non Firma: Understanding and Preparing for Earthquakes, New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company.
  • Hough, S.E. 2004. Finding Fault in California: An Earthquake Tourist’s Guide, Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company.
  • Iacopi, R. 1981. Earthquake Country: How, Why and Where Earthquakes Strike in California, Menlo Park, CA: Lane Publishing Co.
  • Keller, E.A. 1992. Environmental Geology, 6th edition, New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Keller, E.A. and DeVecchio, D.E. 2012. Natural Hazards: Earth’s Processes as Hazards, Disasters and Catastrophes, 4th edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • Kieffer, S.W. 2014. The Dynamics of Disaster, New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc.
  • Levy, M. and Salvadori, M. 1995. Why the Earth Quakes: The Story of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Macdonald, G.A., Abbott, A.T., and Peterson, F.L. 1983. Volcanoes in the Sea: The Geology of Hawaii, 2nd edition, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.
  • MacKay, D.J.C. 2009. Sustainable Energy—Without the Hot Air, Cambridge, UK: UIT Cambridge Ltd. (http://www.withouthotair.com/download.html makes available PDF versions of the book at no cost.)
  • Mann, M.E. and Kump, L.R. 2016. Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change, 2nd edition, New York, NY: Dorling-Kindersley.
  • Murck, B.W., Skinner, B.J., and Porter, S.C. 1998. Dangerous Earth: An Introduction to Geologic Hazards, New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Nichols, M.D. and Young, S. 1991. The Amazing L.A. Environment: A Handbook for Change, Los Angeles, CA: Living Planet Press.
  • Richter, B. 2010. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Robinson, A. 1993. Earth Shock: Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes and other Forces of Nature, London, UK: Thames and Hudson, Ltd.
  • Rundle, J.B., Turcotte, D.L., and Klein, W., eds. 1996. Reduction and Predictability of Natural Disasters, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  • Schmidt, G. and Wolfe, J. 2009. Climate Change: Picturing the Science, New York, NY: E.E. Norton & Company.

We primarily will be using Keller and DeVecchio’s Natural Hazards as well as other materials, covering nearly 2 chapters each week. Readings will be assigned in advance of class discussion; much of the class material is not readily available elsewhere. I am adopting this rapid pace to give us sufficient time to address the “human” elements detailed in the course description. I may restructure the order of presentation in response to current events. We will have several guest lectures plus a number of illustrative video presentations that help clarify some of the issues that society must confront. Please remember that this is primarily a lecture-based course that includes a mandatory day-long field trip.