Southeastern Section - 62nd Annual Meeting (20-21 March 2013)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


BUSH, David M., Department of Geosciences, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118, NEAL, William J., Department of Geology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI 49401 and RICHMOND, Bruce, U. S. Geological Survey, Santa Cruz, CA 95060,

Puerto Rico is one of the most highly developed lands in Latin America. With a surface area of only 8,896 square kilometers (3,435 square miles) and a population of over 3.6 million, the population density is about 400 people per square kilometer. Puerto Rico is an extremely mountainous island, thus constraining both private and commercial evelopment in or near level coastal areas, on flood plains, areas of artificial fill and in dangerous hilly terrain. The high population density along with the intense development of industrial, commercial, public and private property in the coastal zone over the past 40 years has placed both population and property at risk. Most development has taken place without knowledge or regard for the geologic hazards which affect the coastal zone, and the predictable results will be recurring disasters.

Shoreline erosion, both long-term due to sea-level rise and short-term due to storms, is only one of many hazards affecting coastal areas. Other hazards include tsunami, river flooding, earthquake- and rain-induced slope failure, and landslides. An integrated assessment of all potential coastal zone hazards is necessary for a complete understanding of shoreline response to geologic events. This study focuses on the multiplicity of coastal geologic hazards and their identification. Coastal Zone Hazard Maps were prepared for Puerto Rico depicting coastal geology and geomorphology, beach characteristics, offshore (inner shelf) characteristics, and hazard potential from such events as flooding, overwash, erosion, earthquake damage, and landslides. In addition, special consideration was given to areas where shoreline engineering or dense development significantly increases the overall vulnerability of a coastal stretch. A detailed description of Puerto Rico's shoreline with information on the coastal hazards of each shoreline reach, and including an extensive bibliography, can be found in “Living With the Puerto Rico Shore” (Duke University Press, 1995.