Episode 36: The 70,000-landslide storm

Episode 36: The 70,000-landslide storm

In 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, with category 5 winds topping out at 174 mph (282 km/h). In this mountainous nation with the 9th highest road density in the world, thousands of landslides wreaked havoc on the large number of rural communities that became cut off from supplies and travel. Dr. Stephen Hughes, a professor in the Department of Geology at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, has turned this catastrophe into a lesson by harnessing before and after data to develop a landslide susceptibility map with resolution down to every 5 m. Join us as we discuss with him the process of developing landslide prediction across the entire island nation.


Stephen is a professor in the department of geology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. He obtained his bachelors in geology and earth science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his PhD in geology from North Carolina State University. He teaches classes in structural geology, geomorphology, and field geology, and his research projects have focused mostly on tropical landslides and landscape evolution, with the funding of such organizations as the NSF, USGS, USDA-NRCS, and NOAA.

Links to learn more about Dr. Stephen Hughes


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