Unit 5: Mitigating future disasters: developing a mass-wasting hazard map
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.
OverviewStudents analyze and interpret geographical data for a site along with regional climate data in order to predict how that site would behave differently under different weather conditions, and assess the likelihood and level of risk for a mass wasting event. They make claims describing how the risk to life and property can be reduced. Finally, students write a metacognitive reflection about their own understanding of the causes of landslides.
Science and Engineering Practices
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically). HS-P8.5:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations. HS-P6.5:
Analyzing and Interpreting Data: Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. HS-P4.1:
Cross Cutting Concepts
Patterns: Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns. HS-C1.5:
Patterns: Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena HS-C1.1:
Cause and effect: Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. HS-C2.2:
Disciplinary Core Ideas
The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes: The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks. HS-ESS2.C1:
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:
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This page first made public: Oct 2, 2017
Unit 5 Learning Outcomes
This unit is intended to provide the summative assessment for the entire module. Students should demonstrate a mastery of the learning goals for the entire module. The Module Goals are:
- Students will use geodetic data to analyze landscape characteristics and use them as indicators of mass wasting hazards
- Students will articulate the societal effects of mass wasting events and consider the role of natural and human-caused changes in the mass wasting potential for a given landscape.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
This unit is the module summative assessment. Students will be given maps similar to those used in Units 2–4, for the Boulder Creek watershed of Colorado. In Part 1, students will synthesize the data from all of the available maps to analyze the mass-wasting hazards in the region. This part can be completed during class time. In Part 2, students will prepare a written report outlining and providing evidence for their interpretation of what mass-wasting hazards are present in the region. Their reports should also summarize potential hazard preparation or mitigation procedures that they suggest for the region, based on a review of existing guidelines for other regions. In Part 3, students reflect on how their thinking has evolved over the course of the module and how that might influence future actions. Part 3 can be completed at home and turned in with the rest of the report.
- Unit 5 Student Instructions for Final Hazard Map & Report (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 351kB Jun22 17)
Unit 5 Student Instructions for Final Hazard Map & Report PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 373kB Jun21 17)
Students will be given regional map data (as both kmz and pdf): aerial, topography, geology (bedrock/surficial), slope, aspect, hillshade (both SRTM regional and local lidar), streams, and population density. Students may also be given some or all of the questions below to guide their synthesis of the map data. Students will annotate the lightened hillshade image to produce a hazards map for the Boulder Creek watershed (and downstream region) similar to that produced in Unit 3. When constructing the maps, remind students to consider potential direct and indirect effects of mass wasting.
- Does the USGS suggest this region has a high, medium, or low seismic-hazard potential?
- Does this region receive a lot of precipitation? Does it fall during the entire year or more seasonally? Is some of the precipitation stored as snow?
- Are stream valleys confined or do they meander across a flat landscape. Imagine what the streams might look like in flood stage.
- Are there locations where slopes have been locally steepened or otherwise modified either naturally (e.g. undercut by stream) or as a result of human modifications to the landscape (e.g. road-cut, mining, etc.).
- Might the underlying regional geology (bedrock and surficial) increase the mass-wasting potential in any part of this region?
- Is there evidence from geodetic data for mass redistribution in this landscape?
- Are there any residential areas or places that people congregate in regions with high potential for mass wasting?
- Are there any residential areas or places that people congregate in regions downstream of regions with high potential for mass wasting?
- Poster format
- Unit 5 all poster pdf maps (Zip Archive 32.8MB Jun7 17)
- Maps by topic
- Google Earth format—similar maps Unit 5 Google Earth Version Maps (Zip Archive 25MB May18 16)
Students will prepare a written report (~2 pages plus one map) summarizing their map interpretation and potential for societal planning. The first page of text should be dedicated to the factors raising the potential for mass wasting in specific locations within this landscape. Students will cite evidence from the different types of landscape data to support their map interpretations. Students will consult online resources (examples listed below) to review how other regions have prepared for mass-wasting events. In the second page of text, students should describe how towns and citizens in this region might prepare for future mass-wasting events. Students will reference planning techniques used in other towns.
Students are asked to write a half-page reflection on (1) how their perception and understanding of these hazards has evolved and (2) how that might affect their actions/thinking in the future. They are required to draw on supporting evidence from their experience for what they say. This process of reflection (or metacognition) is very important for long-term learning and application of knowledge. More information on metacognition is at InTeGrate Project's Metacognition page and Teaching Metacognition by the Cutting Edge Project.
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Unit 5 can be implemented as an in-class exercise or a homework assignment/project to be completed outside of class.
- Regardless of the format of implementation, it is important to convey to students the importance of linking every one of their rankings (high, moderate, low mass-wasting susceptibility) that they designate on their map with specific lines of evidence from the datasets provide. You could introduce the exercise by working with students to establish which criteria they will use to designate an area as high, moderate, or low. You may also wish to select a small area (where the mass wasting susceptibility ranking is relatively straightforward) and walk through an example with students where they designate the area as low, moderate, and high susceptibility and provide specific evidence from the maps to support their interpretation.
- Although maps may be provided to students electronically, hard copies may be most conducive to students using multiple lines of evidence to support their analysis of mass-wasting susceptibility.
Unit 5 Final Report example rubric (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 128kB Jun22 17)
References and Resources
- Level 3 supplemental data: Basin-averaged erosion rate and lidar-differencing data are available from: Anderson, S. W., Anderson, S. P., and Anderson, R. S., 2015. Exhumation by debris flows in the 2013 Colorado Front Range storm, Geology, v. 43(5).