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Changing Landscapes

Changing landscapes, dynamic environments, and geohazards in the Himalaya: researching, designing, protecting, and planning for an uncertain future

GEOL6021T and GEOL6041

This UC Forward project will examine the nature and consequences of environmental change in the western Indian Himalaya. Our goal is to better understand the nature and dynamics of natural processes, past, present and future human impacts, and how one might protect, plan, and design for a sustainable future in the Himalaya. We will consider landscape change (e.g., mountain building, glaciation, erosion), geohazards (landsliding, flooding and earthquakes), ecology, and complex socio-economic and cultural issues, including those surrounding the growing eco-tourism industry. The course is open to all students from any discipline. The course is in two parts: 1) in-class session in spring semester (GEOL6041T) and 2) three week long field trip in early summer (GEOL6021T).

GEOL6021: Himalayan Field Trip

This course examines the geology of an active continental-continental collision zone by undertaking a field trip to the Himalaya of Northern India. The trip begins at Delhi in the Himalayan foreland and continues by traveling across the foothills of the Lesser Himalaya into the Greater Himalaya, ending on the edge of Tibet. All aspects of the collision zone are examined including the geomorphology, structural geology, petrology, paleontology and geochemisty. Training is provided in field mapping, construction of geologic maps and sections, and the identificationand analysis of landforms and sediments within theHimalaya. Comparisons are made between this activemountain belt and more ancient mountain belts to provide an understanding of the tectonic and geomorphic evolution of mountains.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the physical, socio-economic and political settings of the Indian Himalaya
  • Outline the main environmental hazards in the Himalaya
  • Describe the main human impacts on Himalayan environments
  • Be able to plan a successful field research expedition to a high mountain region
  • To communicate with other disciplines to solve complex environmental/design problems
Students and volunteers at 17,500 ft in front of a Himalayan glacier during our Summer 2011 field course.

Students and volunteers at 17,500 ft in front of a Himalayan glacier during our Summer 2011 field course.

Project Map

Interrelated aspects in the complex adaptive system of the Himalaya.

Why wait to change the world if you don't have to?