Online course in Nature & Environment

Extreme Geological Events

Explore how extreme geological events have shaped Earth and what challenges future events might pose to our planet.

  • Duration 3 weeks
  • Weekly study 4 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $59 Find out more

Discover how extreme geological events have transformed our planet.

Retrace how Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago and has evolved to become the planet we know today.

On this course, you’ll get an introduction to the geological history of planet Earth, and explore the extreme events that shaped it and created conditions for life.

You’ll learn about the largest floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and explore the impact they have had and will continue to have on our dynamic planet.

Finally, you’ll discuss the likelihood of extreme events happening in the future and how we can deal with the risks and hazards.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsThroughout its 4.5 billion year history earth has evolved dramatically to become the planet we know today and it will continue to evolve in the future. The natural processes that bring about changes to our planet can be slow, lasting millions, or even billions of years. Changes can also occur over shorter time scales through extreme events. In this course we'll explore how the earth was formed and discover how extreme geological events have shaped its surface, and created the conditions for life. We'll look at colossal events like the formation of the universe through the Big Bang and snowball earth when our planet was frozen over completely and trapped in an extreme ice estate for millions of years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 secondsWe will discuss how deep earth processes can lead to the largest volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and the role that they play in making our planet dynamic. We'll learn more about the largest most extreme versions of flooding and tsunamis so-called mega floods and mega tsunamis and the impact that they have had on our planet. Finally we'll fast forward to the present day to look at the hazards and risks that these events present to society and the likelihood of humans experiencing these extreme catastrophic events in the future. Join our team of experts at Cardiff University and sign up now to begin your geological journey.

What topics will you cover?

  • The formation of the Earth and how the planet became habitable
  • Key historical events that shaped the Earth’s surface
  • Differences between regular and extreme geological activity
  • Natural processes behind the largest floods, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
  • Risks and hazards presented by extreme geological events
  • Likelihood of extreme geological events occurring in the future

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 3 June 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify key events that led to the formation of the Earth
  • Discuss why the Earth is dynamic, able to support life and experience extreme geological events
  • Explore the relationship between extreme events and the emergence of simple and complex life on Earth
  • Identify the distinction between extreme geological events and the regular activity that occurs on our dynamic planet
  • Summarise the processes and triggers that lead to megaquakes, super eruptions, mega-tsunamis and megafloods.
  • Explore how extreme events have shaped and impacted our planet
  • Assess how evidence of extreme events from the past is gathered and evaluated
  • Explore the difference between risk and hazard in relationship to extreme geological events
  • Discuss the possibility of extreme geological events happening on our planet in the future and how we can mitigate the hazards they present us

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in the geological history of Earth, but may be of particular interest to students looking to study Earth Science.

Who will you learn with?

Wim Degruyter

I am a Lecturer in Geodynamics at Cardiff University. My research focuses on understanding the physical mechanisms of volcanic eruptions.

Dan Hobley

I'm a lecturer in geomorphology at Cardiff University. I'm interested in the movement of water and sediment around the Earth's surface, and in what it does while it's moving.

David Thompson

I am a Lecturer in Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University. My research is focused on the use of seismology to investigate the structure of the Earth from the crust to the deep mantle.

Ernest Chi Fru

Ernest does research in Geomicrobiology, Geology and Biogeochemistry. Current focus is on biogeochemical elemental cycles linked to the evolution of life through Earth history.

Marc-Alban Millet

I'm a lecturer in isotope geochemistry at Cardiff University (UK). I research how magmatic systems work and how this underpins the evolution of Earth and other planets.

Morten Andersen

Lecture at School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University. I am a Geologist studying the long term chemical evolution of the Earth's surface environment.

Claire Earlie

Claire is a Lecturer in Coastal Processes at Cardiff University. As a coastal geomorphological field scientist, Claire specialises in how extreme waves and storms interact with our coastlines.

Who developed the course?

Cardiff University is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and is ranked within the top 150 universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings.

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