Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Recovery Activities

Testing Replaced Instruments on Coral Reefs Could Help Protect Puerto Rico From Future Hurricanes

When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, it also damaged USGS oceanographic instruments installed just offshore.

 

coral reef restoration map

The red areas on this map outline 520 acres of coral reefs NOAA plans to restore near San Juan, Puerto Rico. USGS scientific instruments were installed in the eastern half of this map, offshore of the international airport.

(Credit: NOAA.)

 

Coral reef restoration site

USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison stands near video cameras on top of a building overlooking the proposed reef restoration area near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cameras measure wave run-up and flooding.

(Credit: Curt Storlazzi, USGS. Public domain.)

To test the replacement devices, research geologist Curt Storlazzi and colleagues recently placed the instruments in a high-priority coral reef restoration site off the Isla Verde neighborhood of San Juan. USGS scientists also installed video cameras on top of a building looking over the area. Data from this test will improve computer models of how coral reefs cause waves to break and buffer the shoreline from flooding during hurricanes and help inform how coral reef rehabilitation can reduce future coastal hazards to the Isla Verde shoreline neighborhood and the adjacent Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.

 

USGS is working with three partners on this study. NOAA plans to use the results to guide a $31 million reef restoration project at five sites around the island. The University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez will use the findings to improve coastal hazard forecasts. And Arrecifes Pro Ciudad, a community-based effort, will use the findings to help protect and restore the Isla Verde Coral Reef Marine Reserve near San Juan.

 

diver with instrument

A USGS scuba diver installs a new reef instrument near San Juan, Puerto Rico.

(Credit: Curt Storlazzi, USGS. Public domain.)