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Tsunami assignment

Klaus Neumann
Ball State University
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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 23, 2008


Students read reports about potential sources for tsunamis on the US east coast and compare them with previously discussed dangers for the west cost.

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This is an introduction to geology class, mainly for non-majors. Typically this class is attended by 120 students. A geology lab is part of the class, but run independently. See the course profile page for this course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Understanding basics of plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism, landslides and tsunamis

How the activity is situated in the course

The exercise is given after 2/3 of the course have been taught and all the relevant topics have been covered. Occasionally I use it as an extra credit assignment.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

geographical distribution of hazards, connection with plate tectonics, tsunamis

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

being able to summarize scientific papers, use knowledge in new geographic setting, and assess risk

Other skills goals for this activity

writing skills

Description of the activity/assignment

Lectures and previous brief assignments dealt with plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. For the assignment, students read several articles describing potential sources for tsunamis on the east coast, including volcanic eruptions on the Canary Islands, underwater landslides off the shelf, and earthquakes. Their task is to summarize these potential sources, evaluate the risk of a tsunami on the east coast, and compare them with previously discussed risks for the west coast and Hawaii.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Check if students include all four papers, check if they portray the geologic settings correctly, check for a reasonable risk assessment and comparison with the west cost.

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