GEOL-2640 Advanced Geohazards & Risk Management Spring, 2016

Instructor: Prof. Michael Ramsey

Office: SRCC, room 509/511
Office Phone: 624-8772
Office Hours: Mon, 2:30pm - 4:30pm (or by apt.)

1. Objective: To quantitatively understand the geological and natural processes that affect the human environment in catastrophic ways. Prediction, mitigation, and risk management policy will be examined with the focus on specific case studies of several recent hazards. Students will also work collectively on a research project that will involve an in-depth analysis of a geohazard in the world today.

2. Required Text: (1) "INTRODUCTION TO EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT" by Haddow, Bullock, and Coppola, Butterworth Heinemann Publishing (5th edition), 2014. (2) "CONFRONTING CATASTROPHE: A GIS HANDBOOK" by R. W. Greene, ESRI Publishing, 2002.

3. Lecture Times: W from 6:00 pm - 8:50 pm in SRCC 207. Attendance is strongly encouraged at all scheduled class meetings. Much of the project material will be derived from the class notes and video presentations; therefore attendance is beneficial to your grade.

4. Course Requirements:

  • Projects:
    Individual Project: The first project will be an individual research effort focused on a particular geohazard. Students will choose the hazard category to research as well as a particularly notable event in that category. For example, one could choose hurricanes as the hazard category and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 as the event. Each student will be responsible for reporting the following information for their particular hazard: (1) the geographic setting (population centers, land use, transportation routes, etc.) (2) previous hazardous activity and impacts on the population (3) current scientific research and the monitoring/mitigation efforts and (4) the current public policy/safety/risk management issues. By no later than February 1, 2016, students are to turn in a one-paragraph description of their hazard choice and preliminary research. Students will turn in a 5-page written report and present a 15-minute power point presentation on February 29, 2016.

    Group Project: There will be a group research project that involves an in-depth analysis of a geologic or atmospheric hazard in the world today. The research team will elect a group leader and choose a high risk geographic location and hazard. The group will be responsible for performing some original scientific research for the study area. This will utilizes GIS and/or remote sensing data and culminate in a risk management plan and research analysis for their chosen location. The team will hand in a one-page problem statement the week following Spring Break (March 15, 2016) and ultimately present their work in a 30 minute oral presentation on April 19, 2016. In addition, a 15 page hazard report and risk management plan will be submitted on that date.

5. Field Trip: There may be a field trip taken to the Allegheny County Emergency Response / 9-1-1 Center. This will have to be coordinated since it will have to be during business hours. As soon as I have more information, I will bring it up in class.

6. Grading: Your final grade will be based on your performance on the projects and in-class participation. The grade will be calculated using the following break-down: Individual Project = 30%, Group Project = 50%, Class Participation = 20%. If a curve is needed, it will be based on the final averages of the class and therefore not decided until the end of the term. I curve based on the average of the entire class, making the median score equal to a C+/B- and adjusting all grades accordingly. Please do not ask me what the curve was after the exam!

7. 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.

8. Disability Resources: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Services, 216 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890 / 412-383-7355 (FTY), as early as possible in the term. Disability Resources and Services will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

9. Academic Integrity: Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity, noted below, will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz, exam or paper will be imposed.

10. E-mail Communication Policy: Each student is issued a University e-mail address ( upon admittance. This e-mail address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read e-mail sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an e-mail forwarding service that allows students to read their e-mail via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students that choose to forward their e-mail from their address to another address do so at their own risk. If e-mail is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University e-mail address. To forward e-mail sent to your University account, go to, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished (for the full E-mail Communication Policy, go to:

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This page last updated: Sunday, 08-Jan-2017 17:47:00 EST