Impact of the December 2004 tsunami on soil, groundwater and vegetation in the Nagapattinam district, India uri icon

abstract

  • The tsunami of 26 December 2004 struck the Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu, India. Sea water inundation from the tsunami caused salinization problems for soil and groundwater in coastal areas of the district, and also induced salt injuries in crops. To document the recovery of the agricultural environment from the tsunami, we conducted observations of the soil, groundwater, and vegetation. Soil electrical conductivity increased sharply after the tsunami, but returned to pre-tsunami levels the following year. Groundwater salinity returned to pre-tsunami levels by 2006. These rapid rates of recovery were due to the monsoon rainfall leaching salt from the highly permeable soils in the area. MODIS NDVI values measured before and after the tsunami showed that vegetation damaged by the tsunami recovered to its pre-tsunami state by the next rice cropping season, called samba, which starts from August to February. From these results, we conclude that the agricultural environment of the district has now fully recovered from the tsunami. Based on the results, we have also identified important management implications for soil, groundwater, and vegetation as follows: 1) due to the heavy monsoon rainfall and the high permeability of soils in this region, anthropogenic inputs like fertilizers should be applied carefully to minimize pollution, and the use of green manure is recommended: 2) areas that were contaminated by sea water extended up to 1000 m from the sea shore and over pumping of groundwater should be carefully avoided to prevent inducing sea water intrusion: and 3) data from a moderate resolution sensor of 250 m, such as MODIS, can be applied to impact assessment in widespread paddy field areas like the Nagapattinam District. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009