Geohazards and Remote Sensing at the International Hurricane Center
Jose F. Longoria
Professor of Geology


Geohazards and Remote Sensing studies at the International Hurricane Center provide quality research on natural disasters in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean. Special emphasis is given to the implementation of methods and techniques using remote sensing and mapping in combination with GIS and GPS to asses and mitigate damage caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, flooding, tsunami, desertification and bush fires. Databases for each of those disasters are under construction. Special emphasis is given to inland effects of the physical environment derived from events trigger by hurricanes and other atmospheric disturbances such as El Niño. Clearly the complexity of those natural phenomena only can be viewed using a holistic approach and an eclectic method.

Interaction with the insurance sector and the development of links with government agencies through US, Latin America and the Caribbean are priorities of the Geohazards and Remote Sensing program of the International Hurricane Center.

Goal: The prime goal of the Geohazards and Remote Sensing program of the IHC, is to provide geoscientific basis for the mitigation of natural disasters through the implementation of microzonation as a tool in vulnerability assessment.

Objectives: The aims of the Geohazards and Remote Sensing program of the IHC are: 1) To develop research projects on natural and human-made disasters through collaboration with other national and international research groups. Special emphasis is given to inland effects of hurricanes. 2) To develop new methods and models for geohazards, and vulnerability and risk assessment adequate for the industry and government needs. 3) To attract graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to study different aspects of geohazards and their mitigation.

Research Projects: The Geohazard and Remote Sensing program emphasizes microzonation as a methodological approach to study natural disasters. The concept of microzonation implies the division of land surface into areas and ranking them according to degrees of actual or potential geohazard. The technique of microzonation is fundamentally designed to show the spatial variation of risk of a given geological hazard. including: 1) acceptable risk in spatial terms, 2) where to concentrate resources and 3) where to send emergency services during critical periods.

Current research using GIS and GPS technology in conjunction with the ER Mapper, ERDAS, and remote sensing technology include: 1) The microzonation of the Monterrey metroplex in northern Mexico. 2) The use of the ER Mapper in the inventory of geological conditions in urban areas of northwestern Mexico prone to geological hazards and risk trigger by hurricanes. 3) Desertification in northeast Mexico.

Teaching: Two on-line courses (Environmental Geology and Natural Disasters) related to geohazards are currently offered through the geology department of FIU

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