- © 2001. AAPG/DEG
A series of coastal zone hazard maps cover the area impacted by Hurricane Hugo (1989) in eastern Puerto Rico. The mapping strategy was to develop a tool for quick visualization of multiple hazards for use by coastal planners, managers, property owners, and potential property owners. The Puerto Rico shoreline is heavily developed in places and also highly compartmentalized in terms of shoreline types, geology, and adjacent shelf conditions. Hazards such as coastal erosion, storm surge, riverine flooding, landsliding, and seismic impact also may be compartmentalized. From a management perspective, resources therefore can be allocated on a compartment-by-compartment basis.
Six types of hazards were considered in this investigation: (1) shoreline-setting hazards (long-term coastal problems), (2) marine hazards (short-term impacts of coastal storms), (3) earthquake and slope hazards (ground shaking, landslides, and liquefaction), (4) riverine hazards (historical floods), (5) development hazards (high-density development at risk or lowdensity development in extreme-hazard settings), and (6) engineering hazards (special cases in which shoreline engineering projects such as breakwaters or sand mining have significant detrimental effects on portions of the shoreline). Shoreline segments were ranked as being at extreme, high, moderate, or low risk, depending on the number of hazards present within that segment. These rankings are likely to change, gradually over decades with natural coastal evolution, more rapidly as human development infringes on the coastal zone, or in an instant during a severe storm. The hazard maps provide a basis for hazard mitigation and management recommendations.
Key Words: coastal hazards, hazard maps, hurricanes, Puerto Rico, sea level changes.
Bill Neal is a Professor of Geology, and Chair of the Geology Department at Grand Valley State University. He received a B.S. in Geology from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He has conducted post-doctoral work at McMaster University, the Geological Survey of Portugal (Luso-American Fellow), and Duke University. In 1993 he was co-recipient of the American Geological Institute’s award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of Geology. Dr. Neal is co-editor and contributing author to the Living with the Shore book series, Duke University Press.
Bruce Richmond is a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program in Santa Cruz, California. He has spent the last twenty years with the USGS working on coastal geology of mid- and low-latitude sedimentary environments. He received his M.Sc. degree from Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His current research involves examining the coastal impacts of the 1997–98 El Niño along the U.S. West Coast, and coastal hazards and beach loss in the Hawaiin Islands.
David M. Bush is Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the State University of West Georgia in Carollton, GA. Dr. Bush received his B.S. in Geology from the State University of New York, College at Oneonta, and both his M.S. and Ph.D. in Geology from Duke University. His graduate research focused on the sediments and storm processes along the northern Puerto Rico shelf and shoreline. He was a postdoctoral Research Associate with the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Duke University for four years. His current research focuses on coastal storm impacts, coastal hazards assessment, risk mapping, and property damage mitigation. He is senior author of Living with the Puerto Rico Shore, Living by the Rules of the Sea, and Living on the Edge of the Gulf: The West Florida and Alabama Coasts. At West Georgia, Dr. Bush teaches courses in risk assessment, geomorphology, and oceanography.