Alaska Earthquake Hazard Inventory & Mitigation Planning

Bonnie Magura (Portland Public Schools), CEETEP (Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program), and ANGLE Project


In this activity learners identify hazards for their community or area of interest in the event of a Magnitude 7 or larger earthquake. They inventory critical structures and infrastructure that could be affected. Next they write a summary statement assessing strengths and vulnerabilities of essential services or infrastructure and propose actions for mitigating vulnerabilities. The final step is to create an Action Plan to address identified needs. This version of the activity has an Alaska emphasis but a version for the Pacific Northwest is also linked to below and it can be adapted to most any region with earthquakes.

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This activity can be done by learners from lower secondary up to adult. In classrooms it can be done in secondary level to college courses. It can also be done with adult community members interested in planning for and mitigating earthquake hazards for community resilience.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Learners should know what earthquake hazards threaten the community being studied. They should have access to any hazard maps (ex. tsunami inundation maps) that are available for the area. Internet access and the ability to use Google Maps or Google Earth at least for panning around a seeing the layout of a community and the local topography are also valuable.

How the activity is situated in the course

This could a culminating project in a unit on plate tectonics and earthquakes in which learners move from just understanding the science to learning steps we can take to mitigate earthquake and tsunami risk. It can also be nearly a standalone exercise for adults after a short introduction to the geohazards in a given community.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Learners will be able to:

  • Describe which earthquake-related hazards threaten the community
  • Inventory critical community structures and infrastructure that could be threatened by an earthquake-related hazards

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Create an action plan to mitigate earthquake-related community vulnerabilities

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Working in groups
  • Synthesizing information from multiple map sources

Description and Teaching Materials


See attached file for educator notes, NGSS alignment, links to supporting resources, and student exercise.
Alaska Earthquake Hazard Inventory and Mitigation Planning Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 577kB May21 18)
Anchorage Seismic Ground Failure Map (Acrobat (PDF) 2MB Oct8 21)

Supporting audiovisual

The same activity but with a Pacific Northwest USA emphasis was done by the Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program (CEETEP)

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • It essential to teach about geohazard mitigation from a frame of empowerment. "Take these steps and your community will be safer" has been showing to be more effective at eliciting behavioral change than trying to scare people by the horribleness of potential disasters. Learners do need to understand what hazards exist but then discuss preparedness from the point of view of "what they can do" to be safer.
  • Typical hazards that are posed in conjunction with earthquakes are tectonic (seismogenic) tsunami, landslide-generated tsunami, landslides, and ground liquefaction.
  • This exercise can be adapted to any region with earthquakes. Just look for hazard maps for your region.
  • A similar project could be done with volcanic hazards for communities threatened by volcanic eruptions.
  • See also above educator notes


Formative assessment of learner understanding can be gathered from observation and discussions with individuals or groups. The exercise worksheet serves as the summative assessment for the activity. The answers are short but open ended so the instructor/presenter should develop a simple couple-point scale for evaluating the completeness of each answer. For an adult group outside of a formal course, the summative assessment may be done through large group discussion or presentations of action plans to the larger group or an outside community policy entity.

References and Resources