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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Environmental Geosciences (DEG)



Expedient Assessments of Coastal Storm and Hurricane Damage Potential

James H. Balsillie1

1 Geological Investigations Section, The Florida Geological Survey, 903 West Tennessee Street, Tallahassee, Florida 30304-7700

James H. Balsillie received his B.S. in geology from the Department of Earth Sciences, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, in 1970 and conducted graduate studies and research at Florida State University, Department of Geology, Tallahassee, Florida. Professional interests include structural geology, sedimentology, statistics in geology, coastal engineering geology, and numerical computer modeling. He served with the Coastal Engineering Research Center as a principal investigator for 5 years, with the Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as a coastal engineer for 18 years (including chief of the analysis/research section), and has served with the Florida Geological Survey as a coastal engineering geologist and sedimentologist for the past 7 years. He has written over 90 published papers and numerous computer programs and numerical models.


A considerable amount of detailed information on storms and hurricanes and their resulting impact upon landfall has been compiled over the past 15 years. These data have allowed for the development of detailed and successful prediction methodologies. However, there is also a need for generalized or more simply applicable tools for predicting coastal impact from extreme meteorological events. Two such pragmatic tools have been presented. In the first, mean and maximum beach and coast erosion quantities have been correlated to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane damage potential scale, resulting in an amended Saffir-Simpson scale. In addition, two figures have been produced, one of which relates storm surge to storm tide rise time, and the other which relates storm surge to forward speed of a storm or hurricane. These can be used as nomographs to assess the erosion damage potential in real time as an event is approaching the coast. The second tool is based on the binomial probability theorem. It allows one to assess, for instance, encounter probabilities for known return periods and encounter periods, and is of valuable assistance in the design phase of a coastal project.


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