Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Charles R. Tolbert


This dissertation tests whether known hazards to navigation determine the location of vessel accidents along the lower Mississippi River and describes the human populations most at risk according to predictions. The data are comprised of the relative risk index of river hazards (Forsyth et al. 1996, Gramling et al. 1998), the demographic characteristics of nearby residents, (U.S. Census 1990), and actual U.S. Coast Guard accident reports. Usable predictors of vessel accidents and a knowledge of population characteristics will enable better planning of emergency response, better placement of emergency response equipment, and more effective efforts to prevent vessel. accidents along the lower Mississippi River which is the busiest commercial waterway in the world. In the models computed here, vessel accidents are generally well predicted by the location of known hazards. Results of these models indicate that the human populations at-risk vary widely along the river. At some accident prone points, population density is very high, and many persons are at risk. At other hazardous locations, population density is quite low. Socioeconomic characteristics of the at-risk populations vary from one dangerous location to another. Some at-risk populations are relatively affluent and others are impoverished. The racial and ethnic composition also varies such that some hazardous locations are inhabited primarily by racial and ethnic minorities, while others are settled by majority racial and ethnic groups. This population heterogeneity should be taken into account in planning, preparation and response to river vessel accidents.