Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018PR182B

Geomorphic impacts in rivers of Puerto Rico before and after Hurricane Maria using UAV’s

Institute: Puerto Rico
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,115

Principal Investigators: Walter Silva

Abstract: Quantitative research on prediction of geomorphological changes of floodplain in rivers in tropical islands is scarce and, in Puerto Rico, it is almost non-existent. The situation is the same with respect to human impacts on rivers, particularly mining operations. The lack of historical data and field measurements limits the estimation of changes in river morphology during the useful life of major hydraulic structures or planning land development covering the range between 50 and 100 years. Moreover, the crossing of Hurricane Marover Puerto Rico in September 2017 created major changes in planforms and landscaping of rivers in Puerto Rico. Under normal circumstances those changes had taken several decades or even centuries to occur. The proposal will quantify geomorphologic changes and the impact of Hurricane Maria on two major rivers of Puerto Rico. RGrande de Ao will be studied focusing on a flood plain evolution and RGrande de Lo focuses on impacts of extreme events in previously perturbed environment; specifically, river mining activities. State-of-the-art movable boundary hydraulic models will be developed using precise topographic data generated after Hurricane Marsupplemented with field measurements. Several scenarios of future behavior of streams will be simulated. This project will bring quantitative knowledge of geomorphic impacts in tropical rivers, including extreme events. A data base with new information on river characteristics after passage of an extreme tropical phenomenon will be available for further research. Possible improvements of numerical models for predicting the effects of such phenomena will be considered. This information will be useful in practical applications, particularly hazard mitigation and infrastructure design.