Coastal erosion and village relocation: a Colombian case study
Correa-Arango, Ivan D.
Gonzales, Juan Luis
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Because of its tectonic setting, the Paci"c coast of Colombia is subject to a variety of geological hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis and associated phenomena such as regional and local coastal subsidence, #ooding and soil liquefaction. Erosional trends are prevalent along much of the 700 km long, low barrier island's shorelines of the Paci"c littoral and land losses are enhanced by factors such as 30 cm regional sea level rises associated to the occurrence of El Nin8o. Marine erosion is threatening more seashore littoral villages and worsening the already di$cult socioeconomic conditions of most part of the inhabitants. Because of diverse and strong motivations to stay near the sea, the responses of barriers island's inhabitants to marine erosion has consisted in most cases of repetitive in-shore and along-shore directed relocations of villages, rather than de"nitive abandonment of the islands. In the long run, this procedure only has postponed the problem and led to repetitive relocations and economical losses. The recent inland relocation of El Choncho village, on the San Juan River delta, illustrates a di!erent response to marine erosion. Although a new along-shore relocation was physically possible, inhabitants decided to abandon the barrier island and migrate to an interior, ancient beach ridge complex, applying a prudent solution which will be the most appropriate for other threatened villages of the Paci"c littoral. A detailed geomorphologic mapping program must be conducted in order to identify appropriate sites for inland relocation of existing villages on the barriers islands of the Colombian Paci"c coast. ( 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.