In the wake of Virginia’s recent earthquake and Hurricane Irene’s devastating trail through the East Coast, there’s debate about whether natural disasters are occurring more frequently or more severely than ever before. Eric Hetland, assistant professor of geological sciences, teaches courses on this subject. In GeoSci 108: When Earth Attacks, Hetland explores the science behind natural disasters, the ability to predict them, and how they can cause changes in both science and public policy.

We spoke with Hetland on the history and forecasting of these potentially devastating natural phenomena.

Video production by Rob Hess.