Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 187–197

Our disappearing past: a GIS analysis of the vulnerability of coastal archaeological resources in California’s Santa Barbara Channel region

  • Leslie A. Reeder
  • Torben C. Rick
  • Jon M. Erlandson

DOI: 10.1007/s11852-010-0131-2

Cite this article as:
Reeder, L.A., Rick, T.C. & Erlandson, J.M. J Coast Conserv (2012) 16: 187. doi:10.1007/s11852-010-0131-2


Coastal archaeological resources around the world often coincide with dense contemporary human populations and a rapidly changing physical environment. Projected sea level rise and urban expansion during the 21st century threaten to destroy much of our global coastal archaeological heritage. In this study, we adapt an environmental vulnerability analysis to quantify the threats of modern development and sea level rise on archaeological sites in California’s Santa Barbara Channel region. Using spatial and statistical techniques, we create a Cultural Resource Vulnerability Index that combines environmental factors, current and projected urban footprints, and archaeological site positioning. We illustrate the importance of this method for targeting threatened archaeological sites for mitigation and salvage research. In the process, we highlight the significance of coastal archaeological sites for helping better understand contemporary environmental and cultural issues, underscoring the need to preserve or salvage these sites for their significant research value.


Sea level rise Coastal erosion Urban development Cultural resource vulnerability GIS 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie A. Reeder
    • 1
  • Torben C. Rick
    • 2
  • Jon M. Erlandson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologySouthern Methodist UniversityDallasUSA
  2. 2.Archaeobiology Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Museum of Natural and Cultural History and Department of AnthropologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA