Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013

Roadside and Engineering Geology of Auke Bay, Juneau, Alaska :

Cathy Connor, University of Alaska Southeast

Intended Audience: Introductory Physical Geology for majors and non-majors.


Auke Bay, Juneau, Alaska.


This is the final lab for an Introductory Physical Geology class. Students apply a semester of learned geology skills toward evaluating house building sites near our campus. They encounter evidence of faulting, mass wasting, isostatic rebound, and ancient Alaskans as part of the exercise.


During this 3 hour lab session, students visit 6 sites with varying natural hazards. They collect their own soil, bedrock, and structural data, analyze additional pre-collected data, and produce a consultant's report to the City and Borough of Juneau as hypothetical engineering geologists hired as consultants. Students have learned the rudiments of outcrop evaluation, surveying and mapping of geomorphic features, and the hazards of urbanization in Juneau's glacierized and high relief terrain. Their task in this lab is to assess geologic hazards inherent in the landscape by collecting structural data and making observations at 6 sites with interesting features. They use their field notes as a basis for writing an engineering geology report to the city with their recommendations for site selection for home building.


This field trip is designed to aid students' understanding about the nature of natural hazards in uplifting, and rapidly warming northern southeast Alaska. Additionally, students polish their writing and organizational skills in combining geologic data with their final recommendations about which sites are best for building and why. They must analyze and reflect on the entire semester's-worth of information to produce a high-quality report.

Notes and Tips:

Stop 4 (beach exposure) is on private property - you will need to get the owner's permission before visiting this site or, alternatively, you can omit it from the exercise.

Assessment and Evaluation:

I evaluate the students based on the acuity of their field notes, and the writing in their final report sections (cover memo, purpose, methods, data, analysis, conclusions, references sited).

Materials and Handouts: