Sedimentation of Puerto Rico's Water Reservoirs after Hurricane Maria Conference Poster uri icon


  • On September 2017 the island of Puerto Rico received the direct hit of category five hurricane Maria. Maria left the island in a precarious situation. Recent studies suggest that severe weather phenomena like Hurricane Maria will become more common each year. In order to properly plan for the future it is important to accurately measure the effects that Hurricane Maria had on the island's vital infrastructure, specifically on the power grid and water supply system.

    For this research we will be focusing on studying the effects of Hurricane Maria on the fresh water reservoirs of Puerto Rico's fresh water supply, specifically in terms of sediment deposition. The research will take place on Lake La Plata, one of the largest and most important lakes of Puerto Rico's fresh water supply system. Apparent density of the sediments will be the main measurement to estimate the date, assuming the oldest sediments have a higher apparent density and the newer sediments a lower density.

    The research will combine bathymetric equipment (sonar) with RTK (Real Time Kinematics) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). The bathymetry and RTK data will be used to obtain geo-referenced information about the Lake's depth. With the GPR we will be mapping the Lake's bottom to get apparent density data. The equipment will be mounted on a small boat that will be navigating the lake forming cross sections. All the data will be stored on a GPS device and processed with Geographical Information System (GIS) software. Sediment samples will be collected Periodically to validate the apparent density data collected by both the GPR equipment. These samples will also be analyzed in order to properly differentiate the sediment layers of the soil. We will look for characteristics that successfully correlate the sediment layers deposited with the hurricane and not because of normal sedimentation.    

    The ultimate goal is to develop and validate methodology to perform similar research on other water reservoirs not only in Puerto Rico but also on the U.S. and abroad. The equipment used to perform this research is also capable of measuring other soil properties that could be calibrated to study soil health and water quality related data among other characteristics.

publication date

  • May 4, 2019