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David L. Ozsvath
Department of Geography/Geology
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Into the Abyss: The Case of the Collapsing Sinkhole

Designed for use with small groups in an introductory geology class, this case allows students to determine the relationship between sinkhole development in a karst terrain and groundwater levels. Students then apply this knowledge to a lawsuit filed by the family of a driver of a minivan who dies after his car plunges into a sinkhole allegedly caused by a mining company.

The Slippery Slope of Litigating Geologic Hazards: California's Portuguese Bend Landslide

This case, based on a lawsuit brought against the County of Los Angeles by homeowners suing over damage to their homes in the wake of the Portuguese Bend Landslide, teaches students principles of landslide movement while illustrating the difficulties involved with litigation resulting from natural hazards. Students first read a fictitious newspaper article (based on the actual events), then receive details about the geologic setting and landslide characteristics. With this information, the students are then asked to evaluate the possible causes of the disaster. The case was developed for use in a non-majors’ introductory course in environmental geology.