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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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fluvial erosion

Fluvial Erosion and Geologic Hazards Assessment

In the public imagination, the enduring “granite hills” of New Hampshire are commonly associated with an image of perpetual rock-hard stability and resistance to change. However, like every other place on this planet, dynamic natural forces are always at work to shape the landscape around us. Mostly they act so imperceptibly as to go unnoticed from year to year or even over an entire lifetime. None will ever come close to rivaling the extreme changes that occurred as the last continental glacier advanced and retreated more than ten thousand years ago. Yet, from time to time, we are reminded that geologic hazards do exist in New Hampshire and that society is best served by avoiding vulnerable areas if possible and planning an effective response to any natural disaster before it occurs.

The kinds of geologic hazards that are likely to be experienced in New Hampshire include floods (both riverine and coastal), landslides and earthquakes. The New Hampshire Geological Survey has recently begun focusing its scientific and mapping expertise to address some of the risks associated with these kinds of extreme natural events. Flooding is readily acknowledged to pose the greatest risk to the people and infrastructure of the state. Consequently, the state of New Hampshire has embarked upon an initiative to identify areas adjacent to rivers that are particularly susceptible to erosion and associated bank failures that can occur during high flow events. The sensitivity to these risks in New Hampshire was brought home during the major statewide flood events of 2005, 2006 and 2007. The new initiative to address these risks is referred to as fluvial erosion hazards. More information about the fluvial erosion hazard program in New Hampshire can be found in the DES fact sheet listed below.

The fluvial erosion hazard program is the first step in a longer-term initiative to develop a geologic hazards assessment program within NHGS to maximize public safety by identifying locations most susceptible to such hazards. In addition to our present efforts focused upon riverine systems, future program development efforts will focus on assessment of risks associated with coastal erosion, landslides, and earthquakes.




NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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