Alexandra Langer SURF SMART
The Hydrological Legacy of Sugar Planting in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Present-day residents of St. Croix (Crucians), many of whom are descendants of enslaved Africans, regularly endure droughts and lack reliable and safe drinking water. Moreover, several of the islands natural aquafers have become contaminated with salt water, while siltation from the islands eroding landmass continues to harm nearby critical coral reef ecosystems. More recently, it has also been made clear that this small Caribbean island is highly susceptible to intense tropical weather events, with many Crucians today still suffering from the extensive water damage caused by the two category 5 Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in the summer of 2017. Using multiple lines of evidence from the fields of history, archaeology, hydrology, and paleolimonology, this project will test the hypothesis that the rapid and unsustainable intensification of St. Croixs sugar-based monoculture between the 17th and 19th centuries led to the islands currently observable lack of water hazard resilience.