Date of Graduation

Spring 2017


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Robert Pavlowsky


Jamaica, beach erosion, GIS, mangroves, shoreline management

Subject Categories

Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment


Shoreline erosion is a problem around the world that is getting worse as sea level rises and populations expand into coastal areas. It is important to identify areas at the greatest risk for shoreline erosion so environmental planners will have the knowledge and time to mitigate potential resource losses. The Galleon Fish Sanctuary in St. Elizabeth Parish is a 6 km stretch of shoreline along the south coast of Jamaica composed of mangrove forests, sand beaches, and coral reefs. This study assesses shoreline form and composition in the sanctuary in order to provide new information about the relationships between beach topography, vegetation, substrate, and changes in the shoreline position. Beaches were surveyed and other geomorphic characteristics were recorded at 28 sites. Erosion rates for Galleon for the years 2012-2016 were determined using historical aerial photograph analysis and averaged +0.23 m/yr, ranging from -3.0 to 2.6 m/yr. It was found that 32% of the shoreline in the sanctuary was stable, 44% of the shoreline was accreting, and 24% of the shoreline was eroding. Since 2003, 36% of the beaches in Malcolm Bay and 53% of the beaches in Hodges Bay have recovered to their 2003 pre-Hurricane Ivan position. Toppled vegetation, coarse substrate, and active scarps were indicators of erosion. Mangroves in the sanctuary are at risk for erosion, which is a concern because they provide protection to the beaches and swamp ecosystems. A classification system was developed to categorize beaches based on erosion risk.


© Kayla Marie Geier

Open Access