Geographic information systems-based expert system modelling for shoreline sensitivity to oil spill disaster in Rivers State, Nigeria
Oyegun, Charles U.
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In the absence of adequate and appropriate actions, hazards often result in disaster. Oil spills across any environment are very hazardous; thus, oil spill contingency planning is pertinent, supported by Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) mapping. However, a significant data gap exists across many low- and middle-income countries in aspect of environmental monitoring. This study developed a geographic information system (GIS)-based expert system (ES) for shoreline sensitivity to oiling. It focused on the biophysical attributes of the shoreline with Rivers State as a case study. Data on elevation, soil, relative wave exposure and satellite imageries were collated and used for the development of ES decision rules within GIS. Results show that about 70% of the shoreline are lined with swamp forest/mangroves/nympa palm, and 97% have silt and clay as dominant sediment type. From the ES, six ranks were identified; 61% of the shoreline has a rank of 9 and 19% has a rank of 3 for shoreline sensitivity. A total of 568 km out of the 728 km shoreline is highly sensitive (ranks 7–10). There is a clear indication that the study area is a complex mixture of sensitive environments to oil spill. GIS-based ES with classification rules for shoreline sensitivity represents a rapid and flexible framework for automatic ranking of shoreline sensitivity to oiling. It is expected that this approach would kick-start sensitivity index mapping which is comprehensive and openly available to support disaster risk management around the oil producing regions of the country.