GEOL-0820 Natural Disasters Spring, 2021

2020 California wildfires

Instructor: Prof. Michael Ramsey
Office: online only
Office Phone: 624-8772
Office Hours: by appointment
TA: Tyler Leggett
Office: online only
Office Hours: by appointment
Tues, 10:00 - 10:50am
Wed, 12:10 - 1:00pm
Wed, 5:30 - 6:20pm #
Fri, 1:15 - 2:05pm
TA: Arielle Woods
Office: online only
Office Hours: by appointment
Tues, 5:30 - 6:20pm
Wed, 10:00 - 10:50am
Thurs, 12:10 - 1:00pm
Fri, 12:10 - 1:00pm #

Recitation sections in red are full or almost full (29 - 30 students) and those that are nearly full (> 25 students) have a **. Students in these sections should consider switching into a lower-enrolled section (marked with a #). Typically, students do better in smaller recitations with more TA one-on-one time. Those of you interested should talk with your academic advisors and your current TA for the class to explore the possibility of changing recitation sections. However, please try and do so before the first recitation, which begins the week of Jan 25, 2021.

1. Objective: To understand the natural Earth processes that affect human lives and their environment in catastrophic ways. Natural disasters are commonly made worse when intensive human activity expands into hazardous zones. Each type of hazard will be examined in terms of the science, prediction, mitigation, and public policy/safety issues.

2. Required Textbooks:

"NATURAL DISASTERS (11th edition)," by P.L. Abbott. McGraw Hill Publishing (ISBN 978-1-260-22063-6), 2020. note: the e-book is available through the University Library System

"NATURAL DISASTERS: Recitation Manual" (3rd edition, revised), by M.S. Ramsey. Kendall Hunt Publishing (ISBN 978-1-5249-8316-1), 2018. note: the e-book is available through the publisher, Kendall Hunt

3. Lecture Times: M, W from 2:20 - 3:10 pm online via Zoom (access information will be sent out in an email). Attendance is strongly encouraged at all scheduled class meetings. Much of the exam material will be derived from the class notes and video presentations. I will also be available to answer questions for ~15 min before the class starts; therefore attendance is beneficial to your grade. The class will be given synchronously, and also recorded so that it can be view asynchronously. The links to those recordings and the class notes will be available on the class schedule page.

4. Course Requirements: This course should be an interesting and interactive experience. Knowing the science fundamentals and learning to think objectively will give you a much better understanding of the landscape around you and the natural disasters that impact our lives. However, this class does require effort to do well, so don't treat it as a blow-off class. You will need to memorize information and work in pairs/groups during the recitation.

  • Exams: There will be two mid-term exams and one final (each being online and non-cumulative). Each exam will be multiple-choice questions, which will be based on material covered in the lectures, videos, and recitations. Make-up exams will NOT be given for the first two mid-term exams because you are allowed to drop your lowest score. If there is an extreme circumstance, please come talk to me beforehand (see grading policy below).

  • Recitations: Students will meet for an additional one hour per week in recitation classes run by a Geology Department graduate student teaching assistant (TA). Each recitation TA will lead in-depth discussions relating to the material covered in lecture, as well as administer weekly assignments and laboratory exercises. Grades compiled for each recitation section will be submitted to the course instructor and comprise 35% of your total for the course (see below). You MUST sign up for a recitation section and recitation attendance IS mandatory!!


5. Grading: Your final grade will be based on your performance on the exams, the score in the recitation, and in-class participation. The grade will be calculated using the following break-down: Mid-term Exam = 30%, Final Exam = 30%, Recitation = 35%, Class Participation = 5%. I will drop the lowest of the two mid-term exam grades, but not the final. This will give you the chance to recover from a poor performance and minimize the need for any make-up exams. If a curve is needed, it will be based on the final average of the entire class and equal to a median score of a C+/B-. Therefore, the curve (and thus the letter grades) will not be decided until the end of the term. So, please do not ask me what the curve was after each exam.

6. Web Site: The site is located at and will contain the syllabus, announcements and assignments for the class. I tend to revise the class schedule as the term progresses, so please check there for the most current class information.

7. Other Important Policies (please review!): click here.

8. Other Links:

  • Course Schedule & Notes (Last Updated: Wednesday, 03-Mar-2021 21:43:34 EST)

  • Interested in what it takes to be a Geology major?? Check out the Geology Department's website: click here.

This page last updated: Sunday, 24-Jan-2021 13:51:57 EST