Tulane University, Dept. Earth & Environmental Sciences

Natural Disasters

EENS 3050  & EENS 6050

Fall 2016

Prof. Stephen A. Nelson

Course Description

An examination of the causes, effects, and options available to mitigate natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, landslides, subsidence, flooding, severe weather, and meteorite impacts.

Follow the links below to material related to this course. New links will be added and updated throughout the semester, so check back with this page often.

Click on the Topic of Interest Below

Course Announcements

Syllabus 3050

Syllabus 6050

Disaster Summary Information

Lecture Notes

Homework Exercises



Announcements - Look here  for announcements concerning this course

October 25, 2016

I found some errors in the write up for the homework on Flooding.  The may have prevented you from reaching the proper web sites in problems 2 and 5. The errors have been corrected so that versions on the site with today's date are correct.  Because this may have caused a delay in getting your homework done, the due date for this homework has been extended to November 3.

October 20, 2016

I have graded the midterm exam and will pass it back in class today.   To see the results and some comments on the exam, click HERE.


September 2, 2016


The date and time for the final exam on the initial posting of the syllabus was wrong. The version now on the Natural Disasters web site and on Canvas show the correct date and time of the final exam.


August 23, 2016


After exams, I post here in the announcement section some of the issues I found while grading the exams.  These comments may be helpful and you can find these old announcements from previous semesters by clicking HERE.

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Lecture Notes

Note:  Two versions of each set of lecture notes are shown in the table below.  The first is in html format, optimized for viewing on the Web.  You can print this version directly from your Web browser, but there is no guarantee that the pages will break where they are supposed to, since each person's browser can be set up differently (margins, fonts, font sizes, etc.).  

The PDF (Portable Document Format) versions of the lecture notes are optimized for printing.  All page breaks should occur correctly.  If your web browser has the proper plug-in installed, clicking on the PDF will bring the file into your web browser from which you can then print the notes.  If the plug-ins are not installed, your web browser will either attempt to download the PDF files or offer to send you to the Adobe web site to download the plug-ins for your browser.  If you choose to download the PDF format lecture notes you will still need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print the files.  This and further information about the browser plug-ins can be obtained by clicking on the icon below.

getacro.gif (712 bytes)

Special Note on Fonts-  Some web browsers use a different method to display the Symbol font which I used for creating Greek Characters like - Δ Σ α β etc. If these characters do not show up as Greek characters, your browser has this problem.   The alternative is to use a different browser to view the html files or to use the PDF files where all fonts are rendered correctly.

Note: Only Files with the Red Asterisk * have been updated for the Fall 2016 Term.

 Natural Disasters & Assessing Hazards and Risk*

PDF File*

Earth Structure, Materials, Systems, and Cycles*

PDF File*

Earthquakes: Causes and Measurements*

PDF File*

Earthquake Hazards & Risks*

PDF File*

Earthquake Prediction, Control, & Mitigation*

PDF File*

Earthquake Case Histories*

PDF File*


PDF File*


Volcanoes, Magma, and Volcanic Eruptions*

PDF File*

Volcanic Landforms, Volcanoes & Plate Tectonics*

PDF File*

Volcanic Hazards, & Predicting Eruption*

PDF File*

Volcanic Case Histories*

PDF File*

River Systems & Causes of Flooding*

PDF File*

River Flooding*

PDF File*

Flooding Hazards, Prediction & Human Intervention*

PDF File

Mass Movements*

PDF File *

Slope Stability, Triggering Events, Prediction, & Mitigation*

PDF File*


PDF File*

The Ocean-Atmosphere System*

PDF File

Tornadoes & Other Severe Weather*

PDF File*

Tropical Cyclones*

PDF File*


Coastal Zones*

PDF File*


Meteorites, Impacts, and Mass Extinction*

PDF File*



References to works cited in Lecture Notes

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Homework Exercises

Note: Both HTML and PDF files are available from the list below.

Note: Only files with an asterisk (*) have been updated for the Fall 2016 Term.

I. Disaster Info on the Internet*

Assigned - Aug. 30

Due Sept. 8

PDF File*

II. Seismological Exercises*

Assigned Sept. 8

Due Sept. 20

PDF File*

III. Volcanological Exercises*

Assigned Sept. 27

Due Oct. 11

PDF File*

IV.  Flooding Exercises*

Assigned Oct. 20

Due Nov. 3

PDF File*

V. Mass Movement Exercises*

Assigned Nov. 3

Due Nov. 15

PDF File*

VI. Weather Exercises*

Assigned Nov. 17

Due Dec. 1

PDF File*

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Links to Natural Disaster Information on the Internet
Note: This list is not exhaustive, but it contains some important links that will also contain other links to natural disaster information.

Plate Tectonics


Natural Disasters in General


Volcanic Eruptions




Weather Related Disasters

 Meteorite Impacts

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