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Coastal and Marine Geology Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Coasts of Colombia

Coasts of Colombia

Iván D. Correa A.1 and Robert A. Morton2

1Departamento de Geología, Universidad EAFIT, Medellín, Colombia
2U. S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Coasts of Colombia
Pacific Coast:
Serrania del Baudó (Baudó Range)
Cabo Corrientes-
San Juan River Delta
Málaga Bay - Buenaventura Bay
Buenaventura Bay - Guapi
Patía River Delta
Tumaco Bay
Mira River Delta
Gorgona Island
Malpelo Island
Caribbean Coast:
Guajira Peninsula Coast
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Coast
Magdalena River delta and Santa Marta lagoon complex
Barranquilla - Cartagena coast
Southern Caribbean coast
Gulf of Urabá
Project Contact:
Robert Morton
Due to the complex geologic history of the northwestern part of South America, the Colombian coasts include a variety of coastline types, ranging from high-relief, steep-plunging cliffs typical of igneous and metamorphic massifs, to low, sandy barrier islands and extensive mangrove swamps characteristic of deltaic areas of both coasts. The geological variety of coastline types is further augmented by regional climatic differences (ranging from desert conditions to high rainfall of about 10 m/yr), and by regional and local neotectonic influences, including the effects of historical earthquakes/tsunamis and mud volcano eruptions.

Although mostly undeveloped and with a low population density, the recent evolution of the Colombian coastal regions has been strongly influenced by human activities both along the shore and in the watersheds. Channel excavation and river diversions dating back to the 18th century altered the sediment budgets of all the major deltas of the country and induced extensive morphological and biological changes in the littoral zone. Shoreline retreat has been the predominant historical trend along most of the beaches and soft-rock segments. In the past few decades, the use of hard engineering structures became extensive in order to stabilize the main recreational beaches and the inhabited areas of practically all major coastal cities and villages.


We would like to thank FONDO BID - COLCIENCIAS (Programa de Ciencias del Mar, grants 1216-09-024-99, 1216-09-153-96 and 1216-05-16911), the U.S. Geological Survey, and Universidad EAFIT for supporting the work that made this website possible. We also thank IGAC - INTERA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES (Star 1), OSSO (Universidad del Valle) and Diego Zapata who generously provided radar images and aerial photographs. Assistance with graphics was provided by Betsy Boyton, the website was prepared by Jolene Shirley.

National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards
USGS Coastal & Marine Geology Program

An Overview of Coastal Land Loss: With Emphasis on the Southeastern United States - USGS Open-File Report 03-337
USGS Coastal & Marine Geology Program

Coastal and Marine Geology Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Coasts of Colombia

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