Interdisciplinary Page 1

PHYS1002ID: An Introduction to the Physics of Natural Disasters
Professor Abdou Bah

This geophysics course for non-science majors focuses on natural disasters and the dynamic Earth processes that control them. It integrates the principles of geology, meteorology, climatology, oceanography, and astronomy to provide rudimentary understanding of geophysics. Students learn about the nature, causes, risks, impacts, and prediction of natural disasters including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and climate change. Laboratory exercises are incorporated with class work to illustrate and supplement the lecture material.


The research we have been working on is Environmental Effects of Hurricane Maria. Our topic of the project was Hurricane, and we chose Hurricane Maria as it is one of the recent ones. Hurricane Maria had a devastating effect on Puerto Rico; it struck Puerto Rico, almost the whole power infrastructure in Puerto Rico went out, leaving eighty percent of the island with no power. Due to the power break out, hospital instruments were unusable, insulin and other medicines that required to keep cool turned bad, security in stores were offline which caused looting to happen more frequently, water pumps were shut off causing Puerto Ricans to drink contaminated water increasing leptospirosis disease. Ever since the disaster of Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Ricans decided to move to the US mainland due to blackouts, damaged homes, low water supply, and other issues; In 2018, it was estimated 150,000 Puerto Ricans migrated away from Puerto Rico. This research gives us an understanding of how people have been affected, and the environmental effect of the hurricane. To conclude, Hurricane Maria overwhelmed the Puerto Ricans and Florida from its geographical locations; they had to deal with debts and social impacts for the rest of their lives.


Climate change is one of the biggest threats to human life and infrastructure in the 21st century.     Fortunately, Climate change is artificially controllable. This research project talks about how human activity such as vehicle emissions, agricultural management, or industry use of Chlorofluorocarbons attribute to the great climate disaster. It details how government functional departments and citizens can cooperate to slow down the pace of climate change. In our study, we will make a theoretical analysis on the emission of toxic gases ,  discuss relative machine processes, and incorporate compiled data sets; to find root causes of Climate change. Last, we will suggest some possible solutions and mitigation.


We will be presenting a poster called “Earthquakes and the effects it has on the Pacific Regions”. In the poster we talk about formations of earthquakes and explained the fault types like tension, compression, and shear stress. We also explore about the causes of earthquakes and the impacts in the pacific regions giving it the nickname “Ring of Fire”. One such impact is the effect climate change has on the earth’s crust. We explain about the major earthquakes of 2010 in Chile and 2011 in Japan and how it impacted human life, environment, etc. In conclusion, our group explain how the building structures of the countries surrounding the pacific region have made buildings stand the tremors of the earthquakes. Furthermore, we tried to learn about how early detection systems can alert people before the waves arrive giving enough time to find shelter. 


As climate change continues affecting the world, the damages and the problems follow by the flooding in certain regions are increasing. The research will be focuses on the impact of flood on two counties. The causes of flooding, the damages of flooding, and the solution developed to prevent and protect the cities.