CCOG for G 148 archive revision 202104

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Effective Term:
Fall 2021

Course Number:
G 148
Course Title:
Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Explores the Earth's volcanism and seismicity examining its nature, geographic distribution, frequency, magnitude, and relation to plate tectonics. Covers the assessment of hazards and risks associated with volcanoes and earthquakes and how communities can manage these hazards and risks. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Volcanoes and Earthquakes (G 148) is a one-term introductory course in volcanology and seismology, which are branches of the science of geology. The student will develop an understanding of the types, origin, activity, products, and hazards of volcanoes and earthquakes.

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college-level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations in order to successfully complete this course.

Field Based Learning Statement

Earth and space sciences are based on observations, measurements and samples collected in the field. Field-based learning is recommended by numerous professional Geology organizations, including the American Geological Institute and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Field-based learning improves both metacognition and spatial/visualization abilities while helping to transfer basic concepts to long-term memory by engaging multiple senses at the same time. Spatial thinking is critical to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Field work may include:

  • Developing skills in site characterization
  • Application of key terms and concepts
  • Measurement and data collection
  • Interpretation of data and observations, and fitting them to a larger context

Field work may be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or other means to field sites, carrying equipment and supplies, and making measurements in unusual or awkward positions for a length of time.  Field work may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel stress, etc.). Field work can be adapted to individual abilities.

Creation Science Statement

Regarding the teaching of basic scientific principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution), the Portland Community College Geology/General Science Subject Area Committee stands by the following statements about what is science.

  • Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. A scientific theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
  • Creation science, also known as scientific creationism, is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F.2d 1004).
  • Geology/General Science instructors at Portland Community College will teach the generally accepted basic geologic principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution) not as absolute truth, but as the most widely accepted explanation for our observations of the world around us. Instructors will not teach that creation science is anything other than pseudoscience.
  • Because "creation science", "scientific creationism", and "intelligent design" are essentially religious doctrines that are at odds with open scientific inquiry, the Geology/General Sciences SAC at Portland Community College stands with such organizations such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the American Geological Institute in excluding these doctrines from our science curriculum.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe the mechanics of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes using an understanding of basic physical and chemical processes.
  2. Explain the variety and geographical distribution of volcanoes and earthquakes using an understanding of plate tectonics.
  3. Identify landscape features of the Pacific Northwest associated with volcanic and earthquake activity and describe the events that formed them.
  4. Evaluate a volcano and/or earthquake-related problem or issue impacting the community or the environment using scientific reasoning based on field and/or laboratory and/or remote measurements and observations.

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

Geology and General Science Courses develop students’ understanding of their natural environment by introducing students to Earth, its processes, and its place in the larger scale of our solar system, galaxy, and the universe.

Students learn how:
• Earth is related to other terrestrial planets,
• Plate tectonics drives volcanism and seismicity,
• Surfaces and atmospheres evolve through time, setting the stage for the origin of life as well as mass extinctions,
• Earth’s climate has changed via natural astronomical cycles interacting with the earth system’s (atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere) in the past and is changing presently due to anthropogenic causes.

Students gain an appreciation for geologic time and the rate of Earth processes and learn the methods used by scientists to observe and study our planet and the universe beyond.

Students are introduced to the foundational concepts of how to apply quantitative and qualitative reasoning skills to solve Earth and Space science problems, and they gain an appreciation for the processes that operate at these spatio-temporal scales. Students learn how internal and surficial Earth processes impact society giving them the context to better understand natural hazards, energy and resource distribution, and impact of humans on our habitat to participate in societal discussions and decisions about these topics in a responsible manner.

Aspirational Goals

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:
1) Appreciate the contributions of volcanology and seismology to our evolving understanding of global change and sustainability while placing the development of volcanology and seismology in their historical and cultural context.
2) Become an Earth science literate citizen.
An Earth-science-literate citizen:
- understands the fundamental concepts of Earth’s many systems
- knows how to find and assess scientifically credible information about Earth
- communicates about Earth science in a meaningful way
- is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding Earth and its resources
(Supporting concepts can be found at Earth Science Literacy Initiative).

Course Activities and Design

The material in this course will be presented in a lecture/discussion format accompanied by laboratory exercises.  Other educationally sound methods may be employed such as guest lectures, field trips, research papers, presentations, and small group work.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

At the beginning of the course, the instructor will detail the methods used to evaluate student progress and the criteria for assigning a course grade. The methods may include one or more of the following tools: examinations, quizzes, homework assignments, laboratory write-ups, research papers, small group problem solving of questions arising from application of course concepts and concerns to actual experience, oral presentations, or maintenance of a personal work journal.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Describe the relationship of volcanoes to plate boundaries

Classify the types of rocks created by volcanic processes

Contrast pyroclastic and effusive eruption styles

Examine the effect of silica content on eruption style

Discuss a number of historical volcanic eruptions and determine the major cause of human destruction for each case

Explore the methods used to forecast volcanic eruptions

Classify the features that occur in volcanic landscapes

Define the different kinds of plutons

Discuss the hazards associated with the Cascade volcanoes

Define the following terms: shield volcano, composite volcano, cinder cone, lahar, pyroclastic flow, pahoehoe, aa

Discuss the effects of volcanic eruptions on climate

Describe what is meant by "earthquake".

Define the following terms: focus, epicenter, refraction, reflection.

Describe the different types of seismic waves.

Describe the relationship of earthquakes to plate tectonics.

Define the following terms: strain accumulation, creep, foreshock, main shock, aftershock, interplate earthquake, intraplate earthquake.

Describe how a seismograph works.

Locate an earthquake epicenter using travel-time curves and three seismic records.

Describe how earthquakes can be used to study the interior of the earth.

Locate underground faults and describe crustal structure using a seismic profile.

Classify the different types of faults that result from earthquakes.

Define the following terms: strike-slip, dip-slip, oblique-slip, hanging wall, foot wall.

Describe the landforms produced along faults.

Describe the causes of earthquakes.

Define the following terms: compression, dilation, elastic rebound, compressive stress, tensile stress, fault-plane diagram

Identify the different types of seismic waves on a seismogram and determine the motion along the fault from the first motion of the p-wave.

Describe the relationship between earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

Define the following terms: soil liquefaction, slickensides, sand boils, clastic sills.

Discuss a number of historical earthquakes and determine the major cause of destruction for each case.

Describe the events that precede earthquakes.

Describe the evidence for past earthquakes along the Cascadia subduction zone.

Describe steps that an individual can take to protect against earthquake damage

Describe methods for making buildings and other structures more earthquake resistant.