, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 533-545
Date: 02 Dec 2008

Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability Through the Use of GIS Tools in South Sicily (Italy)

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This study assessed coastal erosion vulnerability along a 90-km sector, which included both erosional and accretionary beaches, and different levels of human occupation. Two aerial photogrammetric flights were used to reconstruct coastal evolution between 1977 and 1999. During this period, extensive accretion was recorded updrift of human structures at harbors and ports, e.g., Scoglitti (105.6 m), Donnalucata (52.8 m), and Pozzallo (94.6 m). Conversely, erosion was recorded in downdrift areas, with maximum values at Modica Stream mouth (63.8 m) and Point Castellazzo (35.2 m). Assessments were subsequently divided into four categories ranging from “high erosion” to “accretion.” Several sources were examined to assess human activities and land use. The latter was mapped and divided into four categories, ranging from “very high” to “no capital” land use. Subsequently, coastal erosion vulnerability was assessed by combining land use categories with recorded coastline behavior. Results showed “very high” to “high” vulnerability along 5.8% and 16.6%, respectively, of the littoral, while 20.9% and 56.7%, respectively, was found to exhibit “medium” and “low/very low” vulnerability. A very good agreement between predicted coastal vulnerability and coastal trend had been observed over recent years. Furthermore, several human structures and activities are located within the “imminent collapse zone (ICZ)” which reached maximum values of 17.5 m at Modica Stream and 13.5 m at Point Braccetto.