Physical Sciences

Geog 1700

Natural Disasters; Physical Sciences General Education Requirement

Course Description:

Students will be introduced to natural disasters; the processes and energy sources that produce them, along with the spatial distribution and pattern of natural phenomena, while developing an understanding of the impact these phenomena have on human activity.  Students will become aware of the dynamic nature of the earth, and the effect this has on the physical, economic, and personal/emotional aspects of their lives. They will discover the ramifications of these phenomena in their lives with an increased understanding of the necessity for preparation, if not prevention, should some type of natural disaster occur locally. Students will also develop an increased awareness of the financial and emotional toll that a headline really represents. All disasters are actually individual disasters!

As far as the reflection, I’ve attached the Word document here for download. It specified that I was to upload it at the bottom of the main course homepage, not the signature assignment and I’m a bit perplexed as to what that really meant since the assignment says to not input the signature assignment using Word… therefore it’s a lengthy entry on this page. I’m putting the signature assignment here for easy access:



For this signature assignment I chose to do Tracking Earthquake and Volcanoes. For the first part of the assignment, here is the information and the image for the earthquake I found over a 4.0 magnitude:

  • Magnitude: 6.4
  • Location: Balleny Islands Region
  • Date: Tuesday, October 9th
  • 10:32PM at the epicenter
  • 10.2 km (6.3 miles)
  • Oceanic to Continental
  • Originally, I thought it occurred on an oceanic to oceanic plate boundary. However, after looking at the image more thoroughly I noticed the plate that the Islands Region sits on smack in the middle of the ocean. It’s connected though to the plate that is underneath Australia. I then noticed that it could possibly be continental to continental though because the plate that the quake occurred on is underneath Antarctica. I decided to go with oceanic to continental simply because the quake occurred right along the boundary. It’s more in the middle of the ocean than next to a continent.



For the second part of the assignment, here is the volcano information:

  • Mount Melbourne, in Antarctica.
  • Caldera volcano
  • Oceanic to Oceanic plate
  • This volcano sits on the coast of Antarctica. Being on an oceanic to oceanic plate, I believe this volcano is a caldera volcano because since calderas are created by collapse of the volcano in on itself, that the snow caused it to fall after an eruption. So take a snow-covered mound for example. It’s stable when there is snow inside of the dome. When a volcano erupts it shakes the surrounding ground, which causes the snow to shift and fall, after the eruption is complete, the weight of the snow on top of the mountain, causes it to collapse in on itself since there is no longer excess amounts of pressure inside. Or at least, that’s how I see it being logically explained.

  • Akita-Komaga-take, Honshu, Japan
  • Pyroclastic Cone, aka Cinder Cone
  • Continental to Oceanic plate
  • This volcano is part of the Ring of Fire. Japan is FULL of volcanoes, the poor country. I believe this volcano sits on a continental to oceanic plate because the boundary in Google Earth ends right next to Japan where the Pacific Ocean begins. Japan sits on a continental plate, therefore, continental to oceanic. Because this volcano is a cinder cone volcano and on the Ring of Fire it is prone to eruptions. Since it’s in a subduction zone, when the oceanic plate subducts under the continental plate it pushes pressure up towards the surface. A cinder cone volcano doesn’t normally erupt violently however, it more leaks at the bottom and leaves a piece of crust at the top that ends up forming into a horseshoe shape.

  • Dubbi, Ethiopia
  • Composite Volcano
  • Oceanic to Continental
  • This volcano is on an oceanic to continental plate. The Indian Ocean plate meets the plate that Africa sits on. This volcano is located on the very edge of Ethiopia. Being a composite volcano which is very popular in subduction zones, it builds pressure when the oceanic plate subducts underneath the continental plate. It’s called a composite volcano because of the layers of sediment and material that builds up in layers every time the volcano erupts. Subduction usually causes a lot of pressure to build up over the years and composite volcanoes are relatively common.

  • Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii (just north-west of Mauna Loa)
  • Shield Volcano
  • Oceanic to Oceanic
  • Specifically, an oceanic transform fault to an oceanic spreading rift, according to Google Earth. Now I believe that this is because the plates separate and drift further apart each time a quake occurs, evidence being that Hawaii drifts closer to Japan every year. Shield volcanoes are extremely common in Hawaii. I’ve seen many videos of Hawaii and it’s landscapes in school that show shield volcanoes and their slowly oozing lava. However, shield volcanoes are also well known for their explosive lava that forms the volcano shape they are named for. This also contributes to the fact that Hawaii grows every eruption as well.







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