Skip to main content
Assessing Georgia's Coastal Hazards: A Low-Cost Approach
Geological Society of America (2011)
  • Chester W. Jackson, Georgia Southern University
  • Rochelle F. Pertruccelli, University of West Georgia
  • David M. Bush, University of West Georgia
  • Clark A. Alexander

As global sea levels rise and as coastal populations grow, coastal managers, planners, and other decision makers need to cost-effectively assess and monitor coastal hazards as part of a science-based approach to managing the shoreline and coastal zone. Low-cost methods of coastal hazards assessment were employed along the entire Georgia coast. The Georgia coast consists of six counties. From north to south, they are: Chatham (includes Savannah and Tybee Island), Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn (includes Brunswick plus Jekyll, Sea, St. Simons Islands), and Camden (includes Cumberland Island).

The assessment technique involves simple, but scientifically sound, procedures such as photo documentation, beach profiling, and geoindicator evaluations. The strengths of such approaches are that they are low-cost, field-oriented, can be conducted by local stakeholders as opposed to commercial, disinterested entities, and provide immediate results. They provide information that can be more rapidly incorporated into decision making than methods relying on sophisticated instrumentation and complex databases. And easy mobilization of equipment and local personnel allows for event capture, pre- and post-storm.

The beach profile procedure used in assessing the Georgia coast is the Emery stake-and-horizon method, which helps determine how the beach responds to weather changes throughout the year if monitored on a seasonal basis. The geoindicator checklist measures the physical properties to determine the risk factor of a particular location due to sea level rise, storm surge and any other flood.

In total, 27 sites were occupied on barrier islands. Only four of Georgia’s barrier islands are developed (Tybee, Jekyll, St. Simons and Sea Islands); all but Sea Island are public. Of the 27 sites on the barrier islands, both beach profiles and geoindicators checklist data were collected at 22 sites. There are a total of 33 mainland/estuarine sites with geoindicators checklist data collected. The data are compiled for presentation into 3-ring binders and as pdf files for ready reference by interested parties.

  • Georgia coast,
  • Coastal hazards,
  • Sea-level rise
Publication Date
Citation Information
Chester W. Jackson, Rochelle F. Pertruccelli, David M. Bush, and Clark A. Alexander. "Assessing Georgia's Coastal Hazards: A Low-Cost Approach" Geological Society of America 43.2 (2011).