Kuwait Journal of Science

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Volume :15 Issue : 1 1988      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Coastal geomorphology and resources in terms of sensitivity to oil spill in Kuwait


Department of Geology,University of Kuwait, P.O. Box: 5969, Safat, 13060, Kuwait and RPI Coastal science & Engineering Inc. P.O. Box: 8056, Columbia, south Carolina 29202, USA




An oil spill environmental sensitivity index (ESI) was developed for the coastal environments

of Kuwait as an aid to oil spill contingency planning and response efforts. A total of 1 1 maps were developed which (a) characterize and rank the shoreline into 10 categories based on sensitivity to oil, (b) denote the ranges of oil-sensitive and commercially important wildlife species. (c) denote the location of important coastal socioeconomic features. and (d) provide

a preliminary protection strategy for combating an oil spill. Field studies were undertaken in April 1983 and January 1984 and encompassed both aerial and ground surveys of the entire coast of Kuwait including Bubyan and Failaka Islands. Based on these surveys. the shoreline of Kuwait was classified as follows (listed in order of increasing sensitivity to spilled oil):


(I) Concrete seawalls and harbor structures (18 km)

(2) Beach-rock outcrops (16 km)

(3) Fine-sand beaches (47 km)

(4) Medium- to coarse-sand beaches (346 km)

(5) Hard sand or mud tidal flats with low productivity (261 km)

(6) Riprap (boulder) structures (73 km)

(7) Cobble/boulder beaches (3 km)

(8) Exposed bedrock platforms (52 km)

(9) Hard sand or mud tidal flats with high productivity (73 km)

(10) Soft mud tidal flats with high productivity (339 km)


The wildlife groups included in the ESI for Kuwait were fish, birds and marine turtles.

Fish were categorized in terms of near shore food species (31 species or species groups), offshore food species (10 species or species groups), and mudskippers (four species of Gobiidae). Birds were categorized as wading birds (23 species), shorebirds (45 species), coastal birds (18 species), migratory waterfowl (15 species), and pelagic birds (10 species). The marine turtle designation included three species, although the green turtle (Chulonia mydas) is most commonly sighted in Kuwaits near shore waters. Seasonality data were also presented for each species.


Sites of determined socioeconomic or human-use value were desalination/power plants, marinas, and public recreational areas.


To assist the spill-response effort, cleanup and protection guidelines were devised for each shoreline type and were also presented in terms of a priority strategy for combating a spill within each of the 11 oil-spill sensitivity maps.


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