San Francisco's Big Seismic Gamble

Earthquakes in Your Backyard:
EPS C20 and L&S C70Y

Earthquakes in Your Backyard: Objectives

The course will present the reality of earthquakes in California including:

  • What causes earthquakes and why we have had so few in recent years.
  • Where earthquakes occur and why UC Berkeley is across a major fault.
  • What is the chance of future earthquakes and how much the ground will shake.
  • Which earthquakes generate tsunamis and how we can warn of their arrival.
  • Which buildings will collapse and how we can reduce the risk.

You will learn to evaluate scientific information, solve problems and influence policy through the use of the following case studies:

  1. The HayWired Scenario earthquake: Likely damage from this expected East Bay earthquake and its long-term economic impact.
  2. Straining California: Continuous ground movements across the state and what they mean for earthquake probability.
  3. Building for earthquakes: What make building more and less likely to withstand earthquake shaking.
  4. Driving public policy: Hear the story of how earthquake early warning came to California.

Goals of the class

  • How close do you live to the fault?
  • What is the chance of an earthquake this semester?
  • What will be the impact on the Californian economy?

The goal is to inform future leaders of our society about the various hazards associated with earthquakes and tsunamis. We hope to foster a generation of non-scientists who are sophisticated consumers of scientific information, and to develop a generation of scientists who are sensitive to the political, economic, and social context of their work.

EPS C20 (cross-listed as L&S C70Y) is a 3 credit course, there are no prerequisites and the class fulfills the Physical Science breadth requirement. The class is intended for all students interested in earthquakes, their impact on our society and how we deal with them. Students taking this class come from the the humanities, social sciences, sciences, engineering, business and law.

Once you are enrolled in the class, all class materials including a detailed syllabus, assignments, due dates etc. are on the bCourses class website.

What students think of this class

"I enjoyed the combination of field trips, guest speakers, films and discussion on current events. Getting multiple perspectives helped in understanding the material."

"The focus on earthquakes in the Berkeley region made me really, really, really care about the material."

"This is the best physical science breadth requirement I know of."

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