Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Understanding Community-Level Flooding Awareness in Remote Coastal Towns in Northern Chile through Community Mapping

Revista : Geosciences
Volumen : 9
Número : 7
Tipo de publicación : Revistas Ir a publicación


In 2015 and 2017 unusual ocean and atmospheric conditions produced many years’ worth of rainfall in short periods over Northern Chile’s Atacama Desert, resulting in catastrophic flooding in the town of Chañaral. However, the town is not only at risk of fluvial flooding, it is also at risk of tsunamis. Through a community mapping exercise, the authors attempted to establish the level of community awareness about tsunamis, and contrasted it with that of other types of water-related hazards facing the town (namely that of flooding due to high intensity rain). This was then compared with the results of field surveys and tsunami hazard simulations, indicating than overall the community appears to have better awareness than authorities about the threat posed by these types of events. The authors thus concluded that in cases when the community has a high level of hazard awareness (which in the case of Chile was the result of traditional knowledge being transmitted from previous generations) it would be advantageous to include them in discussions on how to improve disaster resilience.