Teach the Earth > Geomorphology > Teaching Activities > Field Exercise: Caddy Canyon Debris Flow(s)

Field Exercise: Caddy Canyon Debris Flow(s)

Glenn Thackray
Idaho State University
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: May 29, 2008


This exercise focuses on field observation and analysis of a debris flow that occurred near our campus in 2002. The strengths of the exercise are its emphasis on field observation, data collection, and synthesis of evidence.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This assignment has been used in a senior-graduate level geomorphology course with lower and upper division prerequisites.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

1. Students should be able to identify and describe evidence of debris flows.
2. Students should be able to synthesize evidence to determine the causes and effects of the debris flow.
3. Students should be able to evaluate effectiveness of engineered structures designed to prevent damage from future events.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone exercise in a diverse series of laboratory and field exercises.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

1. collecting field data and observations
2. evaluating possible debris flow sources
3. calculating sediment production rates
4. evaluating sediment retention dams

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

1. integration of field observations and data analysis
2. development of improved engineered structures

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

This exercise consisted of a five-hour field exercise and subsequent data analysis. In the field, students made individual observation, participated in discussions of evidence, and collected group field data. Data analysis consisted of calculations of sediment yields, channel slopes, and erosive power.
Designed for a geomorphology course
Addresses student fear of quantitative aspect and/or inadequate quantitative skills

Determining whether students have met the goals

Written report was evaluated by instructor

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Download teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

See more Teaching Activities »