Spatial Analysis of Disaster Risk in Santo Domingo De Heredia, Costa Rica, Central America

Jonnathan Reyes-Chaves, Mario Fernández-Arce, Sara Grineski, Timothy Collins


This article summarizes the results of an investigation into disaster risk in the canton (county) of Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica. This canton is exposed to several natural hazards as well as technological risks. While the Costa Rican national law related to management of risks and emergency confers the responsibility for managing risks on municipal authorities, they are unprepared for this task. As such, we conducted this analysis to facilitate the tasks assigned by law and accelerate the process of informed disaster risk management in Santo Domingo. Threats and vulnerabilities were mapped in each of the 140 Minimum Geostatistical Units (MGU) of the canton and then a disaster risk index combining both was estimated and mapped. The main threats in Santo Domingo are floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and incidents associated with a pipeline that crosses the canton. The main social vulnerabilities are physical and economic. In most of the canton, disaster risk is relatively low but it is quite high in the southern reaches of the canton, in the districts Santa Rosa, Santo Tomas and San Miguel.

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Journal of Geography and Geology   ISSN 1916-9779 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9787 (Online)  Email:

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