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Coastal geoindicators of environmental change in the humid tropics

Environmental Geology

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DOI: 10.1007/s00254-002-0549-4

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Abstract

The primary geoindicators appropriate for monitoring environmental changes in the humid tropics are transitory surface water levels, shoreline position, wetlands distribution, coral reefs, landforms, and sediment sequence and composition. Lateral zonations and temporal successions of vegetation also can be used as geoindicators of riverine and shoreline changes. All of these coastal geoindicators are sensitive to regional tectonic processes and anthropogenic alterations and they typically reflect significant changes in coastal conditions such as fluvial processes, coastal energy, water quality, relative sea level, and sediment supply. Where humid tropical coasts coincide with active tectonic margins, indicators of seismic activity are critical to understanding Coastal changes associated with co-seismic subsidence or uplift, tsunamis, and liquefaction of coastal sediments. Coastal landforms and sedimentary deposits that record late Quaternary environmental changes include perched fluvial and marine terraces, delta-plain morphologies, crevassesplay deposits, peats and other paleosols, beach ridges, mud capes, and mud volcanoes. Although these features and deposits typically reflect environmental changes spanning more than 100 years, they are relevant to modern processes, management of coastal lands and resources, and prediction of future conditions. In some regions of the humid tropics, large coastal areas are unaffected by hurricanes or typhoons. Nevertheless, these tropical coasts are vulnerable to other non-storm processes, such as El Nin??o events, tsunamis, and monsoons that increase water levels, and cause widespread flooding and beach erosion. The environmental and political significance of coastal geoindicators increases when they are integrated and applied to issues of human safety and health such as hazards mapping, risk assessment, and dispersion of contaminated sediments. However, to be relevant, those socio-environmental applications demand accurate predictions of future trends and rates of change.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Coastal geoindicators of environmental change in the humid tropics
Series title:
Environmental Geology
DOI:
10.1007/s00254-002-0549-4
Volume
42
Issue:
7
Year Published:
2002
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
711
Last page:
724
Number of Pages:
14