Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Joshua D. Carmichael
ESS 202
Seattle Campus


Earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest and around the world - their cause and relationship to plate tectonics; why, where, and when they occur. How earthquakes affect human life: shaping landscape, hazards. Laboratory explores physical processes associated with earthquakes. One field trip. Open to non-science majors.

Class description

Basics of both Earth Science and Seismology: the first week will be the absolute basics of reading maps, Earth history, and plate tectonics. The first lab will be a tour of the PNSN. After the third week or so, we will cover basic definitions in seismology, how faulting effects ground motion, and discuss seismic hazards. We will wrap up with reading seismographs and group presentations.

Student learning goals

Know the differences in types of seismic waves (P versus S)

Know what sorts of waves may cause the most damage

Know whether a normal fault or a strike-slip fault generates large tsuanamis

Tell what direction an Earthquake epicenter is located based upon the first motions in a seismogram.

A note: After compiling student responses from last year, the general misconception was that seismologists don't know anything, and it is a non-quantitative science. This year, I intend to illustrate that is not the case via some computer labs that illustrate signal processing tools used to interpret data taken from seismometers.

General method of instruction

I intend to make instruction very interactive, with a friendly/informal atmosphere. I will usually do a short lecture, and then everyone will do their labs in small groups. My philosophy is: if a course is well-taught, the students learn a lot without exerting much effort. The ratio of student learning to student effort should be very large. But, this requires ATTENDANCE!!!!

Recommended preparation

Math on the level of algebra is expected, though I will provide any help to students that need it.

Class assignments and grading

Quizzes will be given in class, not lab. Labs will be graded upon amount of effort, and accuracy. If a lab is too long to be completed in 3 hours, students will generally be graded on what could be completed in that 3 hours. Two research papers and a final presentation will be required. These will be heavily weighted in computing your final grade.

Your grade will be based upon attendance, quizzes, labs, 2 research papers and a final presentation. A good grade is EASY to get in lab as long as you show up and interact.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Joshua D. Carmichael
Date: 03/28/2008