Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

Greg Waite

Advisor 2

Kari Henquinet

Committee Member 1

Rudiger Escobar Wolf


Jamaica experiences meteorological, hydrological, and geological natural hazards that can produce island-wide impacts. The island’s exposure to multiple hazard types requires effective and sustainable mitigation and disaster risk management to lessen potential impacts, especially for vulnerable populations and communities. Comfort Castle, a small rural farming community, sits in the upper Rio Grande Valley of Portland parish and experiences earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, heavy rainfall, and floods. Steep terrain and remoteness due to geographic location affect the community’s geophysical vulnerability. Their social vulnerability results from a lack of employment, health, educational, and livelihood resources within the community. Together, geophysical, and social factors combine to create overall vulnerability of place and understanding these root causes leads to effective mitigation. In the case of Comfort Castle, limited accessibility is a common denominator among its root causes and exacerbates both geophysical and social vulnerability. Ethnographic and GIS analyses reveal the linking and influential connection between the community’s accessibility and vulnerability of place. This study calls for existing vulnerability models like the Pressure and Release and Access models to place a significant emphasis on the role of accessibility as it relates to vulnerability. In doing so, mitigation measures can start at the deepest level and effectively lead to a reduction in vulnerability to natural hazards.