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Free Content Effects of Hurricane Hugo on South Carolina's Marine Artificial Reefs

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On 21 September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the South Carolina coast with maximum sustained winds of 217 km·h −1 (135 mph) and a storm surge exceeding 6.0 m in height. Although no actual measurements were made, offshore wave heights were estimated to have been as high as 16m. This paper deals with the effects of this Category 4 hurricane on South Carolina's system of nearshore and offshore marine artificial reefs, many of which were in the direct path of the storm. Observations and measurements were made on the reefs over a period of 2 years following the storm to assess structural damage, movement of reef materials, environmental effects and biological impacts of the hurricane on reef structures of varying designs (scrap to manufactured materials), ages (<1 to 20+ yrs) and water depths (5 to 33 m). Detected damage to reef materials was slight and movement of materials was minimal overall. However, movement of small reef structures in one instance exceeded 1.9 km, and movement of one 140 m long ship in 33 m of water was documented. Effects of the storm on artificial reef fish communities as well as resident epibenthic invertebrates were minimal and short term in nature, with no quantifiable detrimental impacts observed. Water turbidity in the vicinity of many of the reefs was dramatically increased for over a year following the storm due to the input of large quantities of estuarine mud into coastal waters. Results of this study provide artificial reef managers with information useful in planning future reef development.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1994-09-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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