GETSI Teaching Materials >Surface Process Hazards > Unit 1: Slip-sliding away: case study landslides in Italy and Peru
GETSI's Earth-focused Modules for Undergraduate Classroom and Field Courses
showLearn More
This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »
show Download
The instructor material for this module are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the student materials are available from this location on the student materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of GETSI materials »

Download a PDF of all web pages for the instructor's materials

Download a zip file that includes all the web pages and downloadable files from the instructor's materials

Unit 1: Slip-sliding away: case study landslides in Italy and Peru

Sarah Hall (College of the Atlantic)
Becca Walker (Mt. San Antonio College)

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.

Overview

Students read and analyze case studies of two major landslides that occurred in different parts of the world. Students then compare the two events and suggest causes and effects for differences in the two landslides. This unit is intended as an introduction to landslides and their impacts on their surroundings and humans.

Science and Engineering Practices

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms. HS-P8.1:

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables. HS-P6.1:

Cross Cutting Concepts

Stability and Change: Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable. HS-C7.1:

Cause and effect: Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects. HS-C2.4:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions: Plate tectonics is the unifying theory that explains the past and current movements of the rocks at Earth’s surface and provides a framework for understanding its geologic history. Plate movements are responsible for most continental and ocean-floor features and for the distribution of most rocks and minerals within Earth’s crust. HS-ESS2.B2:

Natural Hazards: Natural hazards and other geologic events have shaped the course of human history; [they] have significantly altered the sizes of human populations and have driven human migrations. HS-ESS3.B1:

Performance Expectations

Earth and Human Activity: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity. HS-ESS3-1:

This material was developed and reviewed through the GETSI curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class or field camp/course testing of materials in multiple courses with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the GETSI materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • created or reviewed by content experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Oct 2, 2017

Summary

How have mass-wasting events affected communities, and what lessons have we learned from these natural disasters that might help us mitigate future hazards? In this unit, students answer these questions by being introduced to the landscape and societal characteristics that contributed to loss of property and life during the 1970 Nevado Huascarán (Peru) and 2010 San Fratello (Sicily, Italy) events.

Learning Goals

Unit 1 Learning Outcomes

  • Students will analyze geological and climatological factors that contributed to the 1970 Nevado Huascarán and 2010 San Fratello mass-wasting events.
  • Students will evaluate the impact of mass-wasting events on the landscape, infrastructure, and human life for the communities affected by the 1970 Nevado Huascarán and 2010 San Fratello mass-wasting events.
  • Students will hypothesize about factors that lead to geohazard-related personal and policy decisions.
    Supports Module Goal 2; Supports Earth Science Big Ideas ESBI-1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet; ESBI-3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life; ESBI-4: Earth is continuously changing; and ESBI-8: Natural hazards pose risks to humans. (links open in new windows)

Unit 1 Teaching Objectives

  • Cognitive: Using case studies from Peru and Sicily, provide opportunities for considering the interaction between geology, landscape, climate, and infrastructure in the causes and effects of a mass-wasting event.
  • Affective: Facilitate thinking about how mass-wasting events impact social, economic, and political systems and the importance of hazard mitigation and adaptation for residents.

Context for Use

The content in Unit 1 is appropriate for introductory geology, hazards, and other geoscience courses; sophomore-level courses in which geodesy and/or geomorphology/surface processes are being introduced; or non-geoscience courses where infrastructure planning, Earth hazards, and/or the nature and methods of science are being investigated. Unit 1 activities can be adapted to serve small- or large-enrollment classes and can be executed in lecture and lab settings. Although Unit 1 may be implemented as an individual homework assignment, it is best used as an in-class activity in which students work in small groups. This is the introductory unit to the Surface Process Hazards module and precedes Unit 2: Reading the landscape on identifying landscape characteristics using topo maps, lidar hillshade maps, and aerial imagery.

Description and Teaching Materials

Before coming to class, students should have read the article (below) on the Peru and Sicily study sites. Depending on how the instructor chooses to implement this section (i.e., think-pair-share, small-group discussion, gallery walk, or interactive lecture), she or he may decide that students should read both parts of the reading OR assign half of the class the Peru case study and the other half the Sicily case study. During class, think-pair-share, small-group discussion, gallery walk, or whole-group discussion formats are equally appropriate. Faculty may choose to select a subset of these questions depending on time constraints, enrollment, etc.

Suggested discussion questions
(Also available in Word: Unit 1 Case Study Discussion Questions (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 201kB Jun11 17))

  1. Nevado Huascarán is composed primarily of granodiorite. Based on the tectonic setting of the area, propose a hypothesis about how Nevado Huascarán formed.
  2. Would you expect seismicity to be a risk factor in the generation of landslides in the Nevado Huascarán and/or San Fratello study sites? Why/why not? If so, in which study area would you be MOST concerned about seismic hazards? Why?
  3. Propose some factors that could have contributed to the Nevado Huascarán rock and ice fall turning into a debris flow.
  4. In both study areas, scientific and historical evidence exists suggesting that mass-wasting events have occurred in the past. If this is the case, why do people continue to inhabit these areas?
  5. What was water's role in the Nevado Huascarán and San Fratello events?
  6. Mass-wasting events also occur in areas that receive very little precipitation. Propose some ideas for what might trigger slope failure in dry regions.
  7. What might be some of the challenges in studying past mass-wasting events and predicting future events?
  8. How have the community/government responses to the Nevado Huascarán and San Fratello events been different? How do you think that community and government officials would respond to a similar event in the United States?
  9. Briefly describe the geological and climatological differences between the Nevado Huascarán and San Fratello sites. In both cases, how did the geology and climate contribute to the development of the slide?
  10. Compare and contrast how infrastructure and human life were affected by the mass-wasting events in both locations.
  11. Provide some specific ideas about how future climate change could impact mass-wasting events/hazards.
  12. What did you learn about these two case study landslides that surprised you?
  13. What else would you want to investigate about the sites to help the community make planning decisions?

Teaching Notes and Tips

It worked well to give the reading in this unit as a homework assignment accompanied by the list of potential discussion questions. Students were able to reflect on the potential discussion questions and make notes prior to the class discussion. A ~20–30 minute class discussion of the reading worked well as an introduction to the module and as a transition to the brief lecture material at the beginning of Unit 2. Students could be broken up into small groups to discuss a few discussion questions before entering a full class discussion.

Assessment

This is an introduction to the Surface Process Hazards module with no formal assessment. However, faculty may choose to conduct a summative assessment of this unit by having a whole class report-out on the discussion questions or by collecting written responses to the discussion questions. It is helpful to have a written record of student responses to the discussion questions as a reminder to students during subsequent module units.

References and Resources

  • Carey, Mark. In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society, Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Cluff, L., 1971. Peru earthquake of May 31, 1970; Engineering geology observations. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 61(3), 510-533.
  • Evans, S. G., Bishop, N. F., Smoll, L. F., Murillo, P. V., Delaney, K. B., Oliver-Smith, A., 2009. A re-examination of the mechanism and human impact of catastrophic mass flows originating on Nevado Huascarán, Cordillera Blanca, Peru in 1962 and 1970. Engineering Geology, 108, 96-118.
  • Farber, D. L., Hancock, G. S., Finkel, R. C., and Rodbell, D. T., 2005. The age and extent of tropical alpine glaciation in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Journal of Quaternary Science, 20(7-8), 759-776.
  • Urrutia, R., and Vuille, M., 2009. Climate change projections for the tropical Andes using a regional climate model: Temperature and precipitation simulations for the end of the 21st century, Journal of Geophysical Research,114, doi:10.1029/2008JD011021.
  • Schauwecker, S., Rohrer, M., Acuña, D., Cochachin, A., Dávila, L., Frey, H., Giráldez, C., Gómez, J., Huggel, C., Jacque-Coper, M., Loarte, E., Salzmann, N, and Vuille, M., 2014. Climate trends and glacier retreat in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, revisited, Global and Planetary Change, 119, 85-97
  • Article: Piantelli, E., 2013. Monitoring Mother Nature's Forces. The Global Magazine of Leica Geosystems, Reporter 69, 3-5.
  • Article: Cafiso, F., 2013. New Technologies Employed in Studying, Monitoring, and Stabilizing the San Fratello Landslide (Sicily, Italy). Landslide Science and Practice, 369–376.
  • Article: Bardi et al., 2014. Integration between ground based and satellite SAR data in landslide mapping: The San Fratello case study. Geomorphology, 223, 45-60. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.06.025
  • Report: On the San Fratello landslide by the Geologic Service of Italy https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00024-014-0839-2

Already used some of these materials in a course?
Let us know and join the discussion »

Considering using these materials with your students?
Get advice for using GETSI modules in your courses »
Get pointers and learn about how it's working for your peers in their classrooms »

This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested materials developed by GETSI. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »