Fall 2006

SCIE 641
Volcanoes and Earthquakes in Human History

Zeilinga de Boer,Jelle

09/19/2006 - 12/16/2006
Tuesday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

Science Tower 409

Volcanic eruptions and seismic disturbances often have far reaching and long lasting consequences. Major volcanic eruptions have changed weather patterns globally resulting in famine, epidemics, social unrest, and diaspora (e.g. Santorini, 1630 BC; Toba, 1816). Strong earthquakes have caused economic problems that in turn led to social and political changes (e.g. Lisbon, 1755; Managua, 1972). These after-effects lasted for decades. Recent seismic events (the Indonesian tsunami, earthquakes in Iran, Pakistan, and Indonesia) have shown the Earth's continuing seismic activity; this course will examine the science of volcanoes and earthquakes as well as the historical and social effects of such events. The primary focus is to explain and discuss 15 major volcanic and seismic events, emphasizing those that have had an important effect on America (e.g. Mt. St. Helens, 1980; Boston, 1755; New Madrid, 1811-1812; and San Francisco, 1906). Through fieldtrips to the ancient Meriden lava flow and young Salem faults (responsible for earthquakes), we will study first-hand the geological evidence of Connecticut's own seismic history.

Readings will include texts on the geology of volcanoes and earthquakes, as well as books on their effects on society and the development of geological sciences, including Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Sanders, Earthquakes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions (2005), and Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions (2002); Simon Winchester, Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, August 27, 1883 (2003).

Students will be responsible for several short papers.

No previous study of geology is required. The first meeting of class is Tuesday, September 19, 2006.Enrollment is limited to 15 students. Additional fee: $30.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Jelle Zeilinga de Boer (B.S., Ph.D. University of Utrecht) is Harold T. Stearns professor of earth and environmental sciences, emeritus, and author, with Donald T. Sanders, of Earthquakes in Human History: The Far-reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions (Princeton University Press, 2005) and Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-reaching Effects of Major Eruptions (Princeton University Press, 2002). Click here for more information about Jelle de Boer.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 16

Texts to purchase for this course:
Jelle Zeilinga De Boer, VOLCANOES IN HUMAN HISTORY (Princeton University Press), Paperback

Jelle Zeilinga De Boer, EARTHQUAKES IN HUMAN HISTORY (Princeton University Press), Paperback


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