Share This Article:

Factors Contributing to the 2005-Present, Rapid Rise in Lake Levels, Dominican Republic and Haiti (Hispaniola)

Full-Text HTML XML Download Download as PDF (Size:1763KB) PP. 465-481
DOI: 10.4236/nr.2015.68045    4,005 Downloads   4,629 Views   Citations


Lakes Enriquillo and Azuei, the two largest lakes in Hispaniola and in the Caribbean, have risen 10 and 5 m respectively within the last 8 years. Higher lake levels have submerged towns, road systems, agricultural lands and utilities, and have threatened to submerge the major overland highway that connects the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In this study, we use CHIRP seismic data, satellite imagery, and regional meteorological data to quantify and assess controls on the recent lake level rises. Although data are limited, the analyses indicate that the lakes’ water level changes may be attributed to a combination of increased rainfall and natural or man-made changes to the hydraulic connectivity of the various water bodies within the drainage basin. We show that a weak correlation exists between changes in Lake Enriquillo’s and Azuei’s water levels and precipitation rates (0.2 and 0.08 respectively, 1984-2012) and that both lakes experience periods of anti-correlation where, for example, water level drops at Lake Azuei (~20 masl) coincide with water level rises at Lake Enriquillo (41 mbsl). From these observations, we propose that the lakes experience intermittent periods of hydraulic connectivity along reactivated or newly developed stratigraphic-controlled sub-surface transport pathways. We also note that moderately small earthquakes along the large active fault system that extends through both lakes may promote or limit hydraulic conductivity on decadal or shorter time scales. The extents to which recent earthquakes have triggered changes in groundwater flow at this site remain unclear but represent an important topic of future research.

Cite this paper

Wright, V. , Hornbach, M. , Mchugh, C. and Mann, P. (2015) Factors Contributing to the 2005-Present, Rapid Rise in Lake Levels, Dominican Republic and Haiti (Hispaniola). Natural Resources, 6, 465-481. doi: 10.4236/nr.2015.68045.


[1] Buck, D.G., Brenner, M., Hodell, D.A., Curtis, J., Martin, J. and Pagini, M. (2005) Physical and Chemical Properties of Hypersaline Lago Enriquillo, Dominican Republic. Verhandlungen des Internationalen Verein Limnologie, 29, 1-7.
[2] Luna, E. and Poteau, D. (2011) Water Level Fluctuations of Lake Enriquillo and Lake Azuei in Response to Environmental Change. Master’s Thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca.
[3] Daniel, T. and Lopez, E. (2013) Villages Slowly Vanish as Hispaniola Lakes Grow. Huffington Post.
[4] Comarazamy, D.E., González, J.E., Moshary, F. and Piasecki, M. (2015) On the Hydro-Meteorological Changes of a Tropical Water Basin in the Caribbean and Its Sensitivity to Mid-Term Changes in Regional Climate. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 16, 997-1013.
[5] Payano, R. and Medrano, O. (2012) Analisis de la Situacion Actual del Lago Enriquillo de La Republica Dominica. Master’s Thesis, Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos Canales y Puertos, Madrid.
[6] Mann, P., Taylor, F.W., Burke, K. and Kulstad, R. (1984) Subaerially Exposed Holocene Coral Reef, Enriquillo Valley, Dominican Republic. Geologic Society of America Bulletin, 95, 1084-1092.<1084:SEHCRE>2.0.CO;2
[7] Taylor, F.W., Mann, P., Valastro, S. and Burke, K. (1985) Stratigraphy and Radiocarbon Chronology of a Subaerially Exposed Holocence Coral Reef, Dominican Republic. Journal of Geology, 93, 311-332.
[8] Cowgill, E., Bernardin, T., Oskin, M.E., Bowles, C., Yikilmaz, B., Kreylos, O., Elliot, A., Bishop, S., Gold, R.D., Morelan, A., Bawden, G.W., Hamann, B. and Kellogg, L.H. (2012) Interactive Terrain Visualization Enables Virtual Fieldwork during Rapid Scientific Response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Geosphere, 8, 787-804.
[9] Greer, L. and Swart, P.K. (2006) Decadal Cyclicity of Regional Mid-Holocene Precipitation as Driven by Tropical Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures: Evidence from Dominican Coral Proxies. Paleoceanography, 21, PA2020.
[10] Bakun, W.H. (2012) Significant Earthquakes on the Enriquillo Fault System, Hispaniola, 1500-2010: Implications for Seismic Hazard. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 102, 18-30.
[11] Sibson, R. (1981) A Brief Description of Natural Neighbor Interpolation. In: Barnett, V., Ed., Interpreting Multivariate Data, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 21-36.
[12] Kohler, M.A., Nordenson, T.J. and Fox, W.E. (1995) Evaporation from Pans and Lakes. US Department of Commerce and Research Paper 38.
[13] Irmak, S. and Haman, D. (2003) Evaluation of Five Methods for Estimating Class A Pan Evaporation in a Humid Climate. HortTechnology, 13, 500-508.
[14] Lamoreaux, W.W. (1962) Modem Evaporation Formulae Adapted to Computer Use. Monthly Weather Review, 90, 26- 28.<0026:MEFATC>2.0.CO;2
[15] Jensen, M.E. (2010) Estimating Evaporation from Water Surfaces. Proceedings of the CSU/ARS Evapotranspiration Workshop, Fort Collins, 15 March 2010, 1-27.
[16] Samani, Z., Bawazir, A.S., Bleiweiss, M., Skaggs, R. and Vien, D. (2007) Estimating Daily Net Radiation over Vegetation Canopy through Remote Sensing and Climatic Data. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, 4, 291- 297.
[17] ASAE Standards.
[18] Harmsen, E.W., Mecikalski, J., Mercado, A. and Cruz, P.T. (2010) Estimating Evapotranspiration in the Caribbean Region Using Satellite Remote Sensing. Proceedings of the AWRA Summer Specialty Conference, Tropical Hydrology and Sustainable Water Resources in a Changing Climate, San Juan, 30 August-1 September 2010.
[19] Mann, P., Mclaughlin, P.P., Van Den Bold, W.A., Lawrence, S.R. and Lamar, M.E. (1999) Tectonic and Eustatic Controls on Neogene Evaporitic and Siliciclastic Deposition in the Enriquillo Basin, Dominican Republic. In: Mann, P., Ed., Sedimentary Basins of the World, Elsevier, Philadelphia, 287-342.
[20] Whipple, K.X. and Tucker, G.E. (2002) Implications of Sediment-Flux-Dependent River Incision Models for Landscape Evolution. Journal of Geophysical Research, 107, 2039.
[21] Montgomery, D.R. and Dietrich, W.E. (1992) Channel Initiation and the Problem of Landscape Scale. Science, 255, 826-830.
[22] Dunne, T., Whipple, K.X. and Aubry, B.F. (2013) Microtopography of Hillslopes and Initiation of Channels by Horton Overland Flow. In: Costa, J.E., Miller, A.J., Potter, K.W. and Wilcock, P.R., Eds., Natural and Anthropogenic Influences in Fluvial Geomorphology, American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, 27-44.
[23] Ferrier, K.L., Huppert, K.L. and Perron, J.T. (2013) Climatic Control of Bedrock River Incision. Nature, 496, 206-209.
[24] Montgomery, D.R. and Manga, M. (2003) Streamflow and Water Well Responses to Earthquakes. Science, 300, 2047- 2049.
[25] Faulkner, D.R., Jackson, C.L., Lunn, R.J., Schlische, R.W., Shipton, Z.K., Wibberley, C.J. and Withjack, M.O. (2010) A Review of Recent Developments Concerning the Structure, Mechanics and Fluid Flow Properties of Fault Zones. Journal of Structural Geology, 32, 1557-1575.
[26] Gray, W.M. (1984) Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Frequency: Part I: El Nino and the 30 mb Quasi-Biennial Oscillation Influences. Monthly Weather Review, 112, 1649-1668.<1649:ASHFPI>2.0.CO;2
[27] Gray, W.M., Sheaffer, J.D. and Landsea, C.W. (1997) Climate Trends Associated with Multidecadal Variability of Atlantic Hurricane Activity. In: Diaz, H.F. and Pulwarty, R.S., Eds., Hurricanes: Climate and Socioeconomic Impacts, Springer-Verlag, New York, 15-53.
[28] Nyberg, J., Malmgren, B., Winter, A., Jury, M., Kilbourne, K. and Quin, T. (2007) Low Atlantic Hurricane Activity in the 1970s and 1980s Compared to the Past 270 Years. Nature, 447, 697-701.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.