Geology for Global Development

Guatemala

Images of Guatemala (6) – Some Impacts of Agriculture

Images of Guatemala (6) – Some Impacts of Agriculture

Picture1a

(Credit: Geology for Global Development, 2014)

This truck load of sugar cane was one of many observed on this stretch of road from Antigua leading to a volcanic observatory around the volcano Fuego. Agriculture – notably sugar and coffee – in Guatemala is highly significant in many respects, bringing benefits such as exports and jobs. There are however other more hidden impacts, relating to the overall hazardscape of the region, exposure and vulnerability.

Many of the large-scale sugar plantations are on the flat coastal plains, between the Central American volcanic chain and the Pacific Ocean. Also on this land are many of the water courses taking precipitation from the highlands to the Ocean, water courses that are subject to regular flooding for two reasons, (i) the addition of large amounts of sediment as lahars are mobilised and enter the rivers, and (ii) uncontrolled river engineering programmes by industry. The latter was repeatedly noted in interviews to be of concern when it comes to flooding events.

With exposure (being the number of ‘assets’ or people at risk), agriculture also is a contributing factor. The location of coffee plantations on the slopes of volcanoes results in many people living close-by and even more travelling to the area during the day to work. Informal interviews suggested at harvest times, adults will bring children to assist in the picking of coffee as they are paid by weight. The more people in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, the higher the exposure if an eruption, pyroclastic density current or lahar were to occur.

Finally, the agriculture sector can drive increases or reductions in vulnerability. It gives people an income, enabling them to acquire food, healthcare or shelter thus increasing their capacity to cope with extreme events. There is, also, a clear opportunity through small and large scale agriculture to invest in reducing community vulnerability – through improved preparedness, education, fair wages and good working conditions.

—-

Every Friday we are publishing an image from Guatemala to promote our ‘100 x 100’ fundraising campaign. We are working with students, recent graduates and others in the UK to raise money to support efforts to reduce the impact of volcanic hazards in Guatemala.

Find out more: www.gfgd.org/guatemala

Register your interest: Submit your information here

Images of Guatemala (5) – Lake Atitlan

Images of Guatemala (5) – Lake Atitlan


Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

A picture we’ve shared on this blog before – but well worth including in our Images from Guatemala series. Taken from Panajachel, and looking across to the volcanoes of Atitlan (right) and Toliman (left). The small mound in front of Toliman is known as Cerro de  Oro.

The lake fills a significant caldera (volcanic crater), formed from an eruption known as the Los Chocoyos Eruption, dispersing volcanic material as far as Florida in the north and Ecuador in the south. The water level is currently rising, as evident from the many flooded houses and submerged trees along the shoreline (see next weeks images!)

(Credit: Geology for Global Development, 2014)

—-

Every Friday we are publishing an image from Guatemala to promote our ‘100 x 100’ fundraising campaign. We are working with students, recent graduates and others in the UK to raise money to support efforts to reduce the impact of volcanic hazards in Guatemala.

Find out more: www.gfgd.org/guatemala

Register your interest: Submit your information here

Images of Guatemala (4) – Fiesta at Lake Atitlan

Fiesta at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Guatemala is a country with many volcanic hazards, as shown in some of the previous images in this series, but also a country rich in culture and traditions. The image above was taken at the annual fiesta in San Pablo, a small town on the edge of Lake Atitlan. During the fiesta a religious procession goes through the streets, with firecrackers being lit in front of it. The volcano in the background is San Pedro, standing at just over 3000 metres in height. The volcano is a favourite for tourists to climb and provides excellent soil for the coffee growers around the lake. Although not active, it is associated with mass movement hazards. In 2010, during Tropical Storm Agatha, a mudslide was triggered that impacted the town at the base of the volcano, also called San Pedro.

(Credit: Geology for Global Development, 2014)

—-

Every Friday we are publishing an image from Guatemala to promote our ‘100 x 100’ fundraising campaign. We are working with students, recent graduates and others in the UK to raise money to support efforts to reduce the impact of volcanic hazards in Guatemala.

Find out more: www.gfgd.org/guatemala

Register your interest: Submit your information here

Images of Guatemala (3) – Lahar Deposits at Fuego

1

Lahars at Volcan de Fuego, Guatemala.

This image captures a lahar [mudflow] deposit close to Volcan de Fuego. These deposits are formed when rain mobilises ash and pyroclastic material on the volcano to form a fast moving, powerful mudflow with the ability to transport material including large boulders. As the energy dissipates, the sediment is deposited as we see above.

Difficult to see in this image, but a tragic reality, is that this lahar destroyed a road. This road was a vital piece of infrastructure to allow evacuation from an erupting volcano, and without it many people will find evacuation very difficult. Lahars, alongside pyroclastic flows, are two of the most significant and destructive volcanic hazards associated with Volcan de Fuego.

You can read more about Fuego and its secondary hazards online here.

(Credit: Geology for Global Development, 2014)

—-

Every Friday we are publishing an image from Guatemala to promote our ‘100 x 100’ fundraising campaign. We are working with students, recent graduates and others in the UK to raise money to support efforts to reduce the impact of volcanic hazards in Guatemala.

Find out more: www.gfgd.org/guatemala

Register your interest: Submit your information here