Strike-Slip Fault Earthquake

The Independent Project is an opportunity for students to show comprehension of a focus subject—and prowess for writing with attention to scientific detail. This involves geologic research, field exploration if desired, and scientific reporting on relevant geologic details. A focus subject is a hazardous geologic event in the past (e.g., major landslide, creeping fault lineament, past great earthquake (M6.8 or greater), catastrophic flood event, catastrophic levee failure, area of high documented subsidence in the central valley, etc.) This course element is provided for students to seek more experience on a subject and flourish in the course!

Written report: The written report should consist of a 5-pages of text (1.5 line spacing) presenting geologic observations and interpretations gathered for a monumental hazardous event in the past. Along with the inclusion of all the necessary facts, students are encouraged to tell the geologic story! The entirety of the report must be original and in your own words.
This report should include the following aspects…
1) A creative, informative title [3]

2) Introduction to the site area, including: the background geologic information, the current and past plate tectonic setting, an overview of geologic features of interest, and methods of investigation used by scientists to understand the local hazards. [10]

3) Examples of rocks previously mapped that site (maps can be located online via the California Geologic Survey or the US Geologic Survey, etc.) and if possible, document rocks on-site (e.g., sandstone, chert, basalt) and include photos. [5]

Important: Be sure to research the area before focusing on the geologic event of interest, especially if you plan a site visit. This way you’ll know: rocks to look for, how to identify them, what the presence of those rocks means. Explain in your paper how those rocks formed at that location / area—what was the environment of formation and the tectonic setting responsible? How do you know? Be sure to include in-line citations of your sources and include those sources in your reference list.

4) Examples of landforms at the site relevant to the hazards (provide photos of the site with landforms clearly marked, describe how it was created, and when geologic reports indicate that the landform was created. [5]

5) Specific observations you personally gathered at key features (e.g., rock type, sketches of landforms, evidence for faulting or folding, etc. In other words, you must visit the site for this purpose. To this end, extra credit points will asses up to 3 photos taken of you at various sites. [extra credit]

6) Body: the meat of the paper that discusses the hazard. What was the area like before, during, and after the hazardous event? Before: What did geologists already know about the risk at the site? Explain geologist’s previous knowledge of the active fault, volcano, landslide location, etc? Was the source of the hazardous event known, mapped, studied, reported on? How well were residents and visitors informed about the hazard? This is a science course, so please focus on facts and details. Emotions, beliefs, reactions, etc. are not relevant to this report and need not be in the subject matter. During: Explain the scientific details of the event blow by blow. What happened, in gory detail? After: How did scientists respond to the event and what did these studies that focused on the event uncover? Explain what scientists learned about the cause and any conditions that worsened the catastrophic nature of the effects. Also, did these reports result in regulations put in place to prevent similar damage to life and property? Did any engineering innovations follow? [30]

7) In addition to 5 pages of text, your report should include a minimum of 5 figures with numbered captions that present your observations. These should include the following: a geologic map of the region showing the location of the hazardous event and features of interest (such as faults, landforms, landslides, volcanos, etc. referred to in your text) marked by number, (3) photos of geologic observations made on-site by geologist or reporters before or after the hazardous event (include north arrow on the image for context). Examples include: ground rupture, evidence of liquefactions, building or damage to other infrastructure, sedimentary deposits produced by flooding, volcanic activity, or land sliding, ground cracking, etc. [10]

8) Conclusion—Summarize the body in one or two sentence, then focus on the implications. Why this hazardous event was important, both scientifically and societally? How did we suffer? What did we learn? How will we benefit the next time a similar event occurs—at your site or elsewhere? [5]

9) References—you should use at least five sources of information that are each referred to in your report (use in-line citations) and listed in a reference list. By all means—even if you visit a site, this will be guided by desktop research that you perform ahead of your visit. [5]

10) Spelling and Grammar—Please articulate report in a manner that reflects well upon this university. Run spell check prior to turning in the assignment, to show respect for your reader. [10]

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