ESS 202: Earthquakes
Information and Instructions
Spring Quarter, 2003

Introduction: Over 2000 earthquakes occur every year in the Pacific Northwest. Earthquakes large enough to cause substantial property damage happen every few decades. The magnitude 6.8 Nisqually quake on February 26, 2001 is an example.  The truly catastrophic earthquakes are separated by hundreds of years; the last one struck on January 27, 1700. In this course, you will learn about earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest and around the world. We will discuss why, where and when they occur, their relationship to plate tectonics, and how they affect our lives through the hazards they pose and the landscapes they shape. You will also learn what you can do to reduce Physical processes associated with earthquakes are explored in the laboratory. During one weekend field trip, evidence for prehistoric earthquakes will be examined. Course is open to non-science majors.

Instructional Staff:
Prof: Ken Creager,   Room ATG 222,   Tel. 685-2803 (
Prof: Bob Yeats,   (
Prof: Bob Crosson,    Room ATG 225,    Tel. 543-6505 (
Prof: John Booker,    Room ATG 218,    Tel. 543-9492 (

Teaching Assistant: Michelle Koutnik  Room ATG 219,  Tel. 616-5393 (

Class hours:
Lecture 9:30-10:20 M,W,F JHN 437
Lab 12:30-3:20
T JHN 053

Textbooks (required) :
"Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest" by Robert S Yeats
CDROM from Prothro
"This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics" by W. Jacquelyne Kious and Robert I. Tilling (out of print, but on the web)
Other reading will be assigned as we go.

Class Structure: Classes are a mix of lecture and group discussion. Your preparation for in-class discussions entails reading, web-based research , and short writing assignments.  Class attendance and active participation are essential.

Because earthquakes generally occur deep in the Earth, it is not generally possible to directly observe a fault. As a result Earth scientists make models of the Earth and the earthquake process and test these models with a variety of remote observations such as seismograms. A recurring theme of this course will be how Earth scientists use  conceptual models of how the Earth works in order to estimate the relative importance of various physical processes.

We hope that you will walk away from this class with:

Laboratory: The laboratory is such an intrinsic part of the course that we hope you will utilize it to its fullest. Because there is only one lab session, it is not easy to make up a missed lab, but if you have to miss one, please notify the TA ahead of time to see if arrangements can be made to make up a missed lab.

Lab Fees: Lab fees are $15 for the quarter.  This covers lab supplies, xeroxing for lab and lecture and transportation costs for the field trip.  Please make a check out to University of Washington for $15.

Field Trip: There will be a field trip on Saturday, May 3 to look at evidence on Bainbridge Island for a large earthquake that occurred 1000 years ago on the Seattle fault. In past years, students have said this is the highlight of the course. We strongly encourage you to go. Because it is on a Saturday, we understand that not all of you will be able to go. You will not be penalized if you miss it. However, if you go on the field trip, but miss one of the labs, the missed lab will not count against you.

Grading: There will be 5 quizzes, generally every other week, on reading and material covered in class. In addition, there will be 5 quizzes, generally every other Tuesday, on material covered in the lab. Quizzes will cover material up to the previous lecture or lab. Grades will be based on a final group writing project (20% ), in class quizzes (20%),  lab quizzes (20%), labs (attendance and worksheets, 20%) and on class attendance, participation and short writing assignments (20%). If you miss a lab or lecture quiz you will not be able to make it up. To determine a grade we discard your worst lecture quiz and your worst lab quiz.

Web Page:
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