GEOL 5399: Special Topics in Earth Sciences: Assessing Geological Hazards in Jamaica, A Field-Based Approach
Travel Study Opportunity -- Click here to view Itinerary
Port Royal, Jamaica
January 7-16, 2013
Extra fees and travel costs (in addition to J Term tuition of $3,300):
Airfare plus $1,285 for travel expenses (land portion in Jamaica)
Some funding is available to support student travel through SEG Foundation's Geoscientists Without
Borders & SMU Institute for the Study of Earth and Man
This course is open to all students, undergraduates and graduates, who: (1) have taken Math 1337 or greater, (2) have some exposure to programming, and (3) can swim and do not easily get seasick. Due to the physically demanding nature of the course, participation requires prior consent from instructor no later than November 7, 2012.
Instructor Contact Information:
Dr. Matt Hornbach, SMU Associate Professor of Earth Sciences
Primary phone: (cell) 512-636-5030
Email address: email@example.com
Kingston, the political, commercial, and cultural capital of the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, rests precariously along the western edge of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault—the same fault system that activated in Haiti in 2010, killing ~250,000 people. It has now been more than 100 years since a major earthquake occurred near Kingston, and both history and recent scientific analysis suggests that the city, home to ~1 million Jamaicans, is due for another major earthquake. The primary goal of this class, funded in-part by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Geoscientists Without Bordersprogram and The Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, is to train students in real-world geophysical data collection, analysis, and interpretation techniques, and from this, develop quantitative methods to assess geohazard risk. Results from this class will be provided to Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) which will utilize our analysis to mitigate risk and further prepare the island for the next great earthquake.
This course is not for the faint of heart: It involves long (16-18 hour) work-days acquiring both land and sea geophysical data in hot, physically-challenging conditions, with nights spent analyzing and presenting data, discussing ramifications, and ultimately writing detailed technical reports. Kingston is a big, busy, industrial, and sometimes tumultuous city. SMU students will learn not only the basics of geophysical data collection and geohazard risk assessment but also, by working closely with Jamaican colleagues, gain new insight and appreciation for Jamaica’s rich history and culture. The field work will take place during the 3-year anniversary of the great Haiti earthquake of 2010 and will coincide with Jamaica’s nationally recognized “Earthquake Awareness Week.” Much of the work for this class will be highlighted during that time in media across Jamaica.
Although the course is designed for students studying earth and environmental sciences, the class by its very nature is multidisciplinary, integrating geological, statistical, and historical data to address pertinent societal problems. The course will therefore consider highly-motivated students majoring in fields outside earth science (such as economics, anthropology, statistics, journalism) with prior consent from the instructor.
Matt Hornbach, a geophysicist in the department of Earth Sciences at SMU, is an expert in active source seismic imaging and numerical modeling. He has conducted geohazard risk studies across the Caribbean, including two previous field studies in Jamaica, tsunami studies in Haiti immediately following the 2010 earthquake, slope stability and tsunami model assessments for the Caribbean islands of Curacao, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad, and most recently, submarine landslide analysis off the Lesser Antilles islands in the eastern Caribbean. His research has been highlighted in scientific journals and media outlets, including Nature, The Leading Edge, the Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, andthe BBC.
Lyndon Brown, head of the Jamaica Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, is an expert in Jamaican geohazards and works extensively on geohazard preparedness using both active and passive source seismic data and GPS receivers. Although trained as a geophysicist in the U.S., Dr. Brown is a native Jamaican and long-time resident of Kingston, Jamaica. Dr. Brown works closely with the ODPEM – the primary disaster preparedness agency in Jamaica that reports directly to the Prime Minister.
Drs. Brown and Hornbach have worked together for more than 5 years studying Jamaican earthquakes, slope failures, and tectonics.