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Earth 107N - Coastal Processes, Hazards, and Society

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


Earth 107N will provide students with a global perspective of coastal landscapes, the processes responsible for their formation, diversity, and change over time, as well as societal responses to current changes in the coastal zones around the world. Emphasis is placed on hazards including hurricanes and tsunami as well as the growing threat of sea level rise. Active learning elements include analyzing real data sets and applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real-world coastal issues that affect human populations. Students will complete a capstone project in which they consider how coastal cities around the world are planning for the future.


Students who excel in this course are able to:

  • develop the fundamental geospatial skills and concepts needed to assess the coastal processes and hazards discussed in this course;
  • link geologic time and current shoreline processes to explain the past and present evolution of coastline morphology;
  • assess the economic and social impacts of coastal hazards;
  • select optimal engineering options to mitigate specific risks;
  • assess how governments and stakeholders can plan for and respond to coastal hazards.

Required Materials

Typically, there are no required materials for this course. If this changes, students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.




We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is dependent on your attitude, diligence, and willingness to ask for clarifications or help when you need them. We are here to help you succeed. Please keep up with the class schedule and take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us and with your fellow students. You can expect to spend an average of 8 – 10 hours per week on class work.

Major Assignments

Quizzes (20% of total course grade)

Quizzes will be offered each week, multiple-choice, and administered for credit through Canvas.

Capstone Project (30% of total course grade)

The course Capstone Activity takes place throughout the semester; it is for credit. 

Labs (50% of total course grade)

Labs are given at the end of many modules for credit. In these activities, you will be required to integrate multiple concepts, record your data on worksheets, and submit your answers via a Canvas quiz.

Course Schedule

Course Schedule
0Course Orientation
  • Take the Orientation Quiz.
  • Upload Academic Integrity Training Certificate.

The Societies and Economics of Coastal Regions

  • Our Increasingly Urbanized Coasts and Sea Level
  • Coronocanes: Hurricane Preparation in the Covid-19 Era
  • Complete Module 1 Lab A
  • Participate in Discussion.
  • Complete Module 1 Lab B (Quiz).

A Global Glance of the Geology of Coastal Landscapes

  • Getting Down to Business: Plate Tectonics
  • Coastal Zones: The Margins of Continents
  • Back to Coastal Zones: Plate Tectonics and Coastal Classification
  • A Few Notes on Other Types of Coastal Classifications
  • Second-Order Influence on Coastal Zones
  • Complete Module 2 Lab.
  • Take the Module 2 Quiz.

Coastal Systems, Landscapes, and Processes

  • Environments of Coastal Zones
  • Reef Coasts
  • Nearshore, Beaches, and Dunes
  • Barrier Islands
  • Deltaic Coasts
  • Estuaries
  • Coastal Wetlands and Maritime Forests
  • Submit Stage 1 of the Capstone Project.
  • Complete Module 3 Lab.
  • Take the Module 3 Quiz.
  • Begin work on Capstone Project Stage 2.

Sea Level Rise

  • What is Seal Level and How is it Measured? An Introduction
  • Sea Level Change: What are Anomalies and Why Are They Used in Climate Change Analysis?
  • Putting Sea Level Change in Context of the Earth’s History
  • Causes of Sea Level Fluctuations Through Time
  • Sea Level in the Past 20,000 Years
  • Recent Sea Level Rise and Anthropomorphic Impacts
  • Measuring Changes in the Arctic and Antarctic Ice Caps
  • Modeling Sea Level Changes
  • Complete Module 4 Lab.
  • Take the Module 4 Quiz.

Hurricane Formation and Evolution

  • Hurricane Formation
  • Summarizing Warm Core Storms
  • Storm Surge
  • Historic Storm Surge Records
  • Measuring the Strength of Tropical Cyclones
  • Factors Determining the Size of the Storm Surge
  • More on Hurricane Prediction
  • Extratropical Storms
  • Arctic Cold Fronts, Gulf Stream, & Noreasters
  • Complete Module 5 Lab.
  • Take the Module 5 Quiz.

Hurricane Stories

  • Instructors' Personal Hurricane Stories
  • Hurricane Andrew: August 1992
  • Hurricane Katrina: August 2005
  • Superstorm Sandy: October 2012
  • Typhoon Haiyan November 2013
  • Hurricane Maria: September 2017
  • Hurricane Harvey: August 2017
  • Hurricane Dorian: September 2019
  • ETS Titan: February 2014
  • The Historic “Bomb Cyclone” of January 2018
  • Shoreline Effects of Storms
  • Complete Module 6 Lab.
  • Take the Module 6 Quiz.


  • The Tsunami That Killed Dinosaurs!
  • Hawaiian Landslides and Potential Megatsunami
  • Santorini 1600 BC and the End of Minoan Civilization
  • Krakatoa 1883: West of Java!
  • Canary Island Landslides and Potential Megatsunami
  • Investigating The Geology & Impacts of Recent Tsunamis
  • 2004 Sumatran Earthquake
  • 2011 Japanese Earthquake
  • The 1700 Cascadia Megathrust Earthquake and the Future of Cascadia Margin
  • Detecting Tsunamis: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
  • Complete Module 7 Lab (Discussion).
  • Take the Module 7 Quiz.

Coastal Engineering: Hard and Soft Structures

  • Overview of Coastal Erosion
  • The Dynamic Coastline
  • Coastal Protection and Mitigation
  • Coastal Protection Using Hard Structures
  • Coastal Protection Using Soft Structures
  • Earth Systems in Action: Development and Coastlines
  • Submit Stage 2 of the Capstone Project.
  • Complete Module 8 Lab.
  • Take the Module 8 Quiz.
  • Begin work on Capstone Project Stage 3.

Managed Retreat

  • Alternate Approaches to Coastal Hazard Mitigation
  • What is Managed Retreat?
  • Examples of Managed Retreat in the U.S.
  • Examples of Managed Retreat in the U.K.
  • Retreat as a Response to Disaster: New York Example
  • Relocating Coastal Communities: Isle de Jean Charles
  • Multi-Layered Defenses
  • Complete Module 9 Lab.
  • Take the Module 9 Quiz.

Smart Building

  • Early Smart Building
  • The Need for Growth
  • Building with Nature
  • Complete Module 10 Lab.
  • Take the Module 10 Quiz.
  • Submit Stage 3 of the Capstone Project

Vulnerability to Coastal Hazards: Policy for Coastal Resilience

  • Vulnerability's Three Dimensions Introduction
  • Dimension 1: Exposure
  • Dimension 2: Sensitivity
  • Dimension 3: Adaptive Capacity
  • Case Studies: Exposure, Sensitivity, and Adaptive Capacity in Real Examples
  • Complete Module 11 Lab (Discussion).
  • Take the Module 11 Quiz.
  • Begin work on Capstone Project Stage 4.

Emergency Management Cycle for Coastal Hazards

  • Policy, natural hazards, disasters, and the emergency management cycle
  • Mitigation
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery
  • Case Study: Sumatra and Thailand and the 2004 Tsunami
  • Case Study: Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria
  • Case Study: New Orleans and Katrina
  • Houston, Harvey, and Flood Policy
  • Complete Module 12 Lab.
  • Take the Module 12 Quiz.

Sea Level Rise Policy

  • The Sea Level Rise Adaptation
  • Strategies for Building Coastal Resilience and Planning for Sea Level Rise Adaptation
  • Examples of Obstacles to Adaptation
  • Sea Level Rise Adaptation Planning
  • Steps to Resilience
  • Identifying Stakeholders
  • Participatory Planning Process
  • Selecting Strategies
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Symbolic and Cultural Considerations
  • Setting Timeframes for Implementation
  • Complete Module 13 Lab.
  • Take the Module 13 Quiz.
  • Submit Stage 4 of the Capstone Project.
  • Submit Stage 5 of the Capstone Project