Term of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science, Applied Geography

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Wei Tu

Committee Member 1

Chester Jackson

Committee Member 2

Robert Yarbrough


The complexity of vulnerability to natural hazards requires a thorough assessment of both physical and social factors. Physical vulnerability explains the occupancy within hazardous zones and social vulnerability determines how a community can cope, respond to, and recover from disasters. The determination of both physical and social vulnerability helps find the overall vulnerability of a place and this in turn helps with hazard mitigation. This study assesses the overall place vulnerability by examining both physical and social vulnerability in six Coastal Georgia counties. This study also uses Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to generate a social vulnerability index. To obtain the place vulnerability, AMBUR-HVA which is a package in the R programming language is used to create the place vulnerability index by combining the physical and social vulnerability. The global and local Moran’s I statistics are used to determine the spatial autocorrelation of the vulnerability index and the results show census tracts with high place vulnerability mostly within Savannah, Riceboro, Darien, Brunswick, St. Marys, and Sapelo. The results presented in this study can help government officials and policymakers channel resources to the people or areas that need the most assistance.

Research Data and Supplementary Material