A unique destination and one of the world's most spectacular settings, Alaska is known as America's last frontier because of its distance from the lower 48 states and its rugged terrain and climate. Alaska offers an exciting and varied landscape that is perfect for exploring natural hazards.
This mini-term—known as "Living on the Edge"—allows up to seven students to study earthquakes, volcanoes and other dangers where tectonic plates collide. Field studies focus on understanding the scientific reasons for catastrophic events and subsequent loss of life. Fieldwork is aimed at recognizing natural hazards and understanding the processes behind them. The experience will also reflect on how society plays a role in mitigating these hazards.
Course of Study
The course convenes in Anchorage before traveling to several field study sites in the state, including Kodiak Island, Kenai Peninsula, Cordova and the Central Alaska Range. The catastrophic 1964 earthquake damage is analyzed along with tsunami deposits, landslides, and a number of glacial and periglacial processes.
Students learn to distinguish aspects of landscapes formed in this active environment, especially to identify and understand the spatial distribution of landforms. Deposits from landslides, slumps, volcanic activity and glaciers are mapped to learn about the processes and ways to mitigate the hazards. Local Alaskans share and discuss the engineering and social aspects of living in a hazardous land.
- Successful completion of an introductory geology course before the mini-term (preferably numbered 200 or higher).
- Must agree to abide by specific rules for bear safety.
Although not required, priority is given to rising sophomores and juniors interested in majoring in Geology, Environmental Science or Environmental Policy.
Daily hikes and working in Alaska's cold, rainy mountains require that students have the proper equipment to deal with the sometimes rough outdoor environment. Students must have a warm sleeping bag, rain gear (pants and coat), proper hiking boots and other specific outdoor equipment.
Students will be camping for the majority of the mini-term.
(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
- January: Application deadline is the third Friday of winter term.
- February: Non-refundable deposit due at the Cashier's Office in McKean House, and receipt brought to the International Programs Office
- Spring term: Orientation meetings
- Mid-June: Mini-term begins
- Early July: Program ends
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