Quick Links


Lecture Outline



Lecture Materials

Disaster News


Volcanic Eruptions

HONS: Natural Hazards and Disaster Preparedness

CORS 220 (3 credits)

Fall 2010
2 lectures per week: TR 9.30am-10.45am
Mines 306

Simon Kattenhorn
Department of Geological Sciences
Office: McClure 303B
Phone: 885-5063

Office Hours: Wednesdays, 3-4 p.m.

Course Description

Natural disasters are a fact of everyday life. On almost any day, international news bulletins tell of some disaster that has befallen a remote location on Earth. Sometimes the disasters are on our doorstep. Most places in the world are at some risk from what nature can impart, whether it be geologic hazards (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, and sinkholes), weather and climate hazards (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, lightning strikes, wildfires, heat waves, drought, and global warming); and extraterrestrial hazards (e.g., meteorite impacts, solar flares, and gamma ray bursts).

Disasters are also among the few events on Earth that unite humans. They often emphasize our innate desire to reach out and help our fellow people. Unfortunately, the aid is often too little too late or is provided in a disorganized or ineffective manner (e.g., Haiti earthquake relief in 2010). More advantageous is advanced planning, forethought, informed decision-making, and dissemination of information through education (i.e., disaster preparedness). In order to be sufficiently prepared for any disaster, we must understand the science behind the hazard itself.

This course will examine the numerous types of natural hazards that people must face. It will examine the potential effects of natural hazards on the landscape of the Earth in general, as well as on populated areas specifically, through numerous case studies. It will illustrate both the short-term and long-term hardships and consequences of natural disasters on the social, economic, and political arenas. It will also highlight those locations (particularly using examples in the U.S.A.) where disasters are likely to occur in the future, scientific analyses of the nature of the hazards involved, and how we can prepare for them in such a way so as to minimize the damage and number of casualties.

The course will consist of the following major themes (weeks 1 through 15):

* Overview of Catastrophic Events in Nature
* Plate Tectonics
* Earthquakes
* Earthquake-induced tsunamis
* Volcanic eruptions
* Landslides
* Sinkholes, subsidence, and expansive soils
* River floods
* Hurricanes
* Storm surges and related flooding
* Shoreline hazards
* Thunderstorms and tornadoes
* Wildfires
* Meteorite Impacts and other extraterrestrial hazards
* Global warming

Prescribed Course Materials:


Textbook: Natural Hazards and Disasters, Third Edition (Hyndman and Hyndman). Available in the UI bookstore.

Supplementary Course Materials

Course Syllabus

Lecture Outline

Quizzes on Blackboard

Homework Assignments

Online Class Materials

Course Grades

Click Course Grades to access your grades in various exercises in the class, as well as your current grade in the class. NOTE: Log into Blackboard using your UI Novell account username and password. If you do not know your current password for Novell/Blackboard, you can change it by visiting http://support.uidaho.edu and logging into the system with another active username and password (such as your UI email username and password) or your PIN number.

If you have problems accessing Blackboard with this username and password, you may contact the ITS Help Desk (E-mail: helpdesk@uidaho.edu, Phone: 208-885-4357). You can find additional information about Blackboard login at https://www.blackboard.uidaho.edu/webct/.


Natural Disasters in the News Articles

Natural Hazards Websites

Natural Hazards General Info

USGS Natural Hazards Gateway

The Disaster Center

Most Expensive Natural Disasters (20th Century)

Highest Death Tolls in Natural Disasters (20th Century)

Death Tolls in Natural Disasters (by Category)

Emergency Disasters Database

Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters


Simon's Earthquake Information Resources webpage

Daily Updates of World Earthquakes (USGS)

Earthquakes in the US, Last 7 days (USGS)

Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, last 2 weeks

Most Recent Significant Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest

Info on Significant Earthquakes by year (USGS)

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program


West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (NOAA-National Weather Service)

National Geophysical Data Center: Tsunami Data


Weekly Updates of Volcanic Eruptions Worldwide

Epic Disasters website (Volcanoes)




National Hurricane Center (National Weather Service)


Tornadoes and Severe Weather (Disaster Center)

Tornado FAQ


National Weather Service Fire Danger Forecasts

National Interagency Fire Center

Meteorite Impacts

Near Earth Object Program (NASA)

Torino Impact Hazard Scale

North American Impact Craters

Visit Simon's website!