GETSI - GEodesy Tools for Societal Issues

The GETSI teaching materials feature geodetic data and quantitative skills applied to societally important issues (climate change, natural hazards, water resources, environmental management). These materials were designed and developed by teams of faculty and content experts, underwent rigorous review and classroom testing, and are ready for use in your undergraduate classroom.


Teaching Materials Available Now

Oso Landslide
Surface Process Hazards (Introductory level)
Sarah Hall (College of the Atlantic)
Becca Walker (Mt. San Antonio College)

Worldwide mass wasting causes hundreds if not thousands of deaths per year and billions of dollars in damages. Many of these losses would be preventable if societies prioritized landslide mitigation. In this 2-3 week module, students use a variety of geodetic and other data to analyze the natural and human characteristics of landscapes that contribute to mass wasting hazards. Most of the geodetic data sets are high resolution topography from Lidar and radar, but some InSAR data are also included. Students consider the environmental and societal impacts of mass wasting and landslides as well as the physical factors behind mass movements. Materials for student reading and preparation exercises, in-class discussions, lab exercises, small group activities, gallery walks, and a final project are provided, as well as teaching tips and suggestions for modifications for a variety of class formats. Case study sites include Peru, Italy, and a variety of North American sites from Alaska to Utah to New York.

Greenland GPS Network (GNET) station
Ice Mass and Sea Level Changes (Introductory level)
Becca Walker (Mt. San Antonio College)
Leigh Stearns (University of Kansas)

In this 2-3 week module, students interpret geodetic data from Greenland to assess spatial patterns and magnitudes of ice mass change and consider mechanisms and timescales for ice mass loss. They also investigate the relationship between ice mass change and global and regional sea level, with an emphasis on the ongoing and future implications of sea level change on civilization. Materials for student reading and preparation exercises, in-class discussions, lab exercises, small group activities, gallery walks, and wall walks are provided, as well as teaching tips and suggestions for modifications for a variety of class formats.

Measuring Water Resources banner
Measuring Water Resources with GPS, Gravity, and Traditional Methods (Majors level)
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Eric Small (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Measuring water resources such as groundwater and snowpack is challenging, but the advent of satellite gravity measurements and hydrologic GPS applications can augment traditional methods. This module gives students the unique opportunity to learn these newer methods alongside more traditional ones of groundwater wells and SNOTEL stations. They determine the pros/cons, uncertainty, and spatial scales of different methods. Droughts in the High Plains Aquifer and California are used as case studies. In the summative assessment, students pull together what they have learned and write a report with recommendations for policy makers.

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Analyzing High Resolution Topography with TLS and SfM (Majors level; Field Collection)
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Kate Shervais & Chris Crosby (UNAVCO)
And other contributors

Part of GETSI Field Collection: Geodetic imaging technologies have emerged as critical tools for a range of earth science research applications from hazard assessment to change detection to stratigraphic sequence analysis. In this module students learn to conduct terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) and/or Structure from Motion (SfM) surveys to address real field research questions of importance to society. Both geodetic methods generate high resolution topographic data and have widespread research applications in geodesy, geomorphology, structural geology, and more. The module can be implemented in four- to five-day field course or as several weeks of a semester course.

San Andreas Fault LIDAR
Imaging Active Tectonics with InSAR and LiDAR data (Majors level)
Bruce Douglas (Indiana University)
Gareth Funning (University of California Riverside)

This module focuses on the integration of new and emerging geodetic data sets that have revolutionized our ability to understand the processes and fault parameters that control the particular characteristics of a given earthquake. As such, the units provide insight into the fundamentals of fault behavior and the geological record of this behavior as manifest in the geomorphology of the land surface (tectonic geomorphology). Through analysis of this tectonic landscape, students will develop an appreciation that this subject area requires 4-D thinking that is spatial, and temporal considerations as repeated events on a single fault are recorded in the evolution of the surface topography. Additionally, earthquakes have a direct impact on humans through the potential disruption of societal support infrastructure, and the magnitude and location of this disruption can be determined. The module units can be used individually or integrated into traditional laboratory exercises on faults and fault properties and geometries as well as strain analysis that records ongoing deformation. Finally, the module exposes students to a number of digital tools already common at the professional level, including those used to perform modeling of an earthquake.

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GPS, Strain, and Earthquakes (Majors level)
Vince Cronin (Baylor University)
Phillip Resor (Wesleyan University)

Understanding how the Earth's crust deforms is crucial in a variety of geoscience disciplines, including structural geology, tectonics, and hazards assessment (earthquake, volcano, landslide). With the installation of numerous high precision Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, our ability to measure this deformation (strain) has increased dramatically, but GPS data are still only rarely included in undergraduate courses, even for geoscience majors. In this module students analyze GPS velocity data from triangles of adjacent GPS stations to determine the local strain. Students learn about strain, strain ellipses, GPS, and how to tie these to regional geology and ongoing societal hazards. A case study from the 2014 South Napa earthquake helps students make connections between interseismic strain and earthquake displacements.


Learn More about the GETSI Teaching Materials »

Find other geodesy teaching resources on NAGT's Teaching Geodesy site »

Find more teaching resources that feature geoscience learning in the context of societal challenges on the InTeGrate site »

In Development

High Precision Positioning with Static and Kinematic GPS/GNSS (Majors level; Field Collection): in development
Authored by Benjamin Crosby and Ian Lauer (Idaho State University)

If you have questions about the project, please contact education_AT_unavco.org


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