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Environmental Studies in Venezuela

The Orinoco Delta
The Orinoco Delta in Venezuela is the world’s seventh largest delta system and one of the most significant systems in terms of environmental and natural resources. Bureau researchers, together with the project’s sponsor, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), and other Latin American partners, conducted a challenging and rewarding study of a major part of the Orinoco Delta in 1997–1999.

The study established a GIS database containing environmental baseline information of then-current conditions and active delta processes. The Orinoco Delta, like deltas worldwide, is a dynamic environment affected by many natural processes and human activities: annual floods, episodic storms, waves and tides; agriculture; deforestation; and the distribution and population of animals, plants, and people.

The database now provides a common set of information for industries, developers, regulators, planners, and policy analysts for use in the development and protection of environmental resources. Baseline datasets also make it possible to distinguish development-related environmental impacts from rapid geologic changes common to the Orinoco Delta system.

Bureau scientists involved in this research included John R. Andrews, James C. Gibeaut, Edgar H. Guevara, Susan D. Hovorka, Jay A. Raney, Rebecca C. Smyth, Thomas A. Tremblay, and William A. White. Center for Space Research scientists included Melba M. Crawford and Solar S. Smith. To learn more about the geo-environmental characterization of the Orinoco Delta, click here.

Tributary stream to Caño Manamo, Orinoco Delta, Eastern Venezuela.


Pond in flood basin. Orinoco Delta, eastern Venezuela.


Bureau and Venezuelan research staff assisted by local observers, examine sediment samples. Orinoco Delta, eastern Venezuela.


Rapid sedimentation and the formation of mangrove-covered islands in Boca de Guanipa, Orinoco Delta, eastern Venezuela.

Energy Studies in Venezuela