Natural Hazards: Geoscience and Fiction – Assignment 1
Due: MONDAY Feb 8, 11:59 pm, submit to Courselink Dropbox, late assignments are penalized 25%/day
(modified from original exercise by Paul Howell, University of Kentucky)
Write an original work of fiction based on a topic below (based on hazards we’ve discussed in
readings and class (essentially items covered in the first 4 weeks of the semester) that includes aspects of the
behavior and the types of hazards that accompany this process. These aspects may appear as plot elements, or
setting, or in some other fashion. Fiction? Really? Yes. You can choose whatever style of fiction you like (keep
in mind the rubric on CourseLink and guideline below; and that this assignment accounts for 15% of your final
You’ll need background information. Textbook readings and at least two additional (reliable) references that
provide helpful information about your selected hazard are required. Lecture notes or class/course notes
from ANY class (including GEOG*1350) are not an acceptable reference.
References Note: In order to get full credit, you need to include references.
You may work some really good ideas into your writing that you learn from studying about other “real” (non-
fiction) hazards, and these should be referenced. Normally references are not required (or expected) in works of
fiction, but we’re grading your factual background as well as the quality of the fiction. To that end, be sure to
include in-text citations where you are drawing on your references in your story. There is
not set referencing style (e.g., APA, Chicago, Vancouver, MLA) for this course, use what you
are comfortable using, use it consistently.
Example website reference (this is just here to show you how to write a website reference in case the
referencing format you typically use doesn’t include an example):
“CVO Menu, Mt. St. Helens”: USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington, Oct 9,
Make this an actual work of fiction, with interesting characters, dialogue, plot, intrigue, etc. Put as much
geological information (factually reasonable, of course) into this story that it will hold without destroying the
artistry of your literary work. We expect well-written and proofread submissions, make use of the tools available
with most programs. Key elements to include depend on the topic you select, here are the ones
that typically need to be well-explained: tectonic setting, recurrence interval (the actual
number, but also related to how we are able to predict (or are limited in our predictions) of
natural hazards), associated hazards, relationship between magnitude and frequency.
No length minimum or maximum!! In all likelihood, a limerick will be significantly lacking in completeness, no
matter how well conceived. We doubt anyone will write a novella in a week, but if so, we’ll grade it. Keep in
mind that this assignment is worth 15% of your final grade and must be original work, so less than 2000 words
and you are likely missing key components, more than 5000 words and maybe you’ve spent too much time on
Grading Rubric (points awarded out of a 15 possible), you can view the detailed rubric on CourseLink:
Geosciences & Processes (10 points) – Demonstrate superior understanding of the mechanics of the selected
topic. Clearly introduce and explain the required key elements in the story
Story or Plot (3 points) – Fun and interesting story to read, easy to follow, and the science is included into the
story in a relatively seamless way.
References & Writing Quality (2 points) – At least 3 reliable references used and properly cited, few to no typos
or grammatical errors in the story.
For grading purposes, these are the only topics to choose from, at the same time they are relatively
broad to allow for creative and interest motivated selections. Be sure your title or sub-title clearly
indicates your topic selection, and include this in the Text Box section of your DropBox
• Subduction zone earthquake
• Strike-slip earthquake
• Tsunami due to landslide
• Tsunami due to an earthquake
• Tsunami due to flank margin collapse
• Stratovolcano (aka composite volcanoes)
• Shield volcano eruption (increased activity)
Just pick ONE topic, the best stories are focused on one hazard, and the key elements associated with that topic
(see above section under requirements).
Newspaper articles, journals, diaries, blogs, letters or similar types of correspondence are not an appropriate or
accepted story format.
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