Diagnosing Landslide Hazard

Les Hasbargen
SUNY College at Oneonta
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Students investigate an active complex landslide with the purpose of characterizing the risk to nearby infrastructure. Students gain experience with field observation, mapping, and report writing. In addition, students learn key geologic and hydrologic controls on landslides.

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This activity is designed for upper division Geology, Earth Science, and Earth Science education majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must be able to recognize kinds of geologic materials, identify evidence of mass transport, and think critically about field evidence. Further, students are expected to apply a rubric to a report, and satisfy basic writing requirements for reports on scientific investigations.

How the activity is situated in the course

This exercise is a stand alone project. An introduction to the controls on landsliding is given in lecture form prior to the field exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Concept and content goals include: recognition of contributing factors to landsliding in the field; assessment of landslide activity (which requires identifying signs of age and recency in the field); identifying infrastructure at risk from the landslide.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students engage in assessment of hazard and report writing, both of which require higher level organization and reasoning.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students gain experience with field note taking and technical report writing.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students investigate the geologic, hydrologic, and geomorphic controls on a landslide. Students take field notes, assess landslide activity, and write a technical report on the investigation.
Designed for a geomorphology course
Uses geomorphology to solve problems in other fields

Determining whether students have met the goals

A grade rubric is supplied to the student, which assesses the adequacy of various features within the report, field notes, and map of the landslide. In addition, written comments on the report are provided to help focus future writing efforts, encourage good habits and techniques, and highlight areas that need improvement.

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