Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

First-of-its-Kind Study Reveals Surprising Ecological Effects of 2010 Chile Earthquake

May 07, 2012

The reappearance of long-forgotten habitats and the resurgence of species unseen for years may not be among the expected effects of a natural disaster.

Yet that's exactly what researchers found in a study of the sandy beaches of south central Chile, after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami in 2010.

Their study also revealed a preview of the problems wrought by sea level rise--a major symptom of climate change.

In a scientific first, researchers from Southern University of Chile and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) were able to document the before-and-after ecological impacts of such cataclysmic occurrences.

A paper appearing today in the journal PLoS ONE details the surprising results of their study, pointing to the potential effects of natural disasters on sandy beaches worldwide.

The study is said to be the first-ever quantification of earthquake and tsunami effects on sandy beach ecosystems along a tectonically active coastal zone.

"So often you think of earthquakes as causing total devastation, and adding a tsunami on top of that is a major catastrophe for coastal ecosystems," said Jenny Dugan, a biologist at UCSB.

"As expected, we saw high mortality of intertidal life on beaches and rocky shores, but the ecological recovery at some of our sandy beach sites was remarkable.

"Plants are coming back in places where there haven't been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami."

Their findings owe a debt to serendipity.

The researchers were knee-deep in a study supported by FONDECYT in Chile and the U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Santa Barbara Coastal Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site of how sandy beaches in Santa Barbara and south central Chile respond, ecologically, to man-made armoring such as seawalls and rocky revetments.

By late January, 2010, they had surveyed nine beaches in Chile.

The earthquake hit in February.

Recognizing a unique opportunity, the scientists changed gears and within days were back on the beaches to reassess their study sites in the catastrophe's aftermath.

They've returned many times since, documenting the ecological recovery and long-term effects of the earthquake and tsunami on these coastlines, in both natural and human-altered settings.

"It was fortunate that these scientists had a research program in the right place--and at the right time--to allow them to determine the responses of coastal species to natural catastrophic events," said David Garrison, program director for NSF's coastal and ocean LTER sites.

The magnitude and direction of land-level change resulting from the earthquake and exacerbated by the tsunami brought great effects, namely the drowning, widening and flattening of beaches.

The drowned beach areas suffered mortality of intertidal life; the widened beaches quickly saw the return of biota that had vanished due to the effects of coastal armoring.

"With the study in California and Chile, we knew that building coastal defense structures, such as seawalls, decreases beach area, and that a seawall results in the decline of intertidal diversity," said lead paper author Eduardo Jaramillo of the Universidad Austral de Chile.

"But after the earthquake, where significant continental uplift occurred, the beach area that had been lost due to coastal armoring has now been restored," said Jaramillo. "And the re-colonization of the mobile beach fauna was underway just weeks afterward."

The findings show that the interactions of extreme events with armored beaches can produce surprising ecological outcomes. They also suggest that landscape alteration, including armoring, can leave lasting footprints in coastal ecosystems.

"When someone builds a seawall, beach habitat is covered up with the wall itself, and over time sand is lost in front of the wall until the beach eventually drowns," said Dugan.

"The semi-dry and damp sand zones of the upper and mid-intertidal are lost first, leaving only the wet lower beach zones. This causes the beach to lose diversity, including birds, and to lose ecological function."

Sandy beaches represent about 80 percent of the open coastlines globally, said Jaramillo.

"Beaches are very good barriers against sea level rise. They're important for recreation--and for conservation."

The National Science Foundation (NSF)


Related Earthquake Current Events and Earthquake News Articles


How a huge landslide shaped Zion National Park
A Utah mountainside collapsed 4,800 years ago in a gargantuan landslide known as a "rock avalanche," creating the flat floor of what is now Zion National Park by damming the Virgin River to create a lake that existed for 700 years.

Fukushima nuclear accident is 'wake-up call' for US to improve monitoring of spent fuel pools
The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident should serve as a wake-up call to nuclear plant operators and regulators on the critical importance of measuring, maintaining, and restoring cooling in spent fuel pools during severe accidents and terrorist attacks, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

UW team first to measure microscale granular crystal dynamics
Designing materials that better respond to dynamic loading can help vehicles minimize vibration, better protect military convoys or potentially make buildings safer during an earthquake.

New research estimates probability of mega-earthquake in the Aleutians
A team of researchers from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM) published a study this week that estimated the probability of a Magnitude 9+ earthquake in the Aleutian Islands--an event with sufficient power to create a mega-tsunami especially threatening to Hawai'i.

Microbes make tubular microtunnels on earth and perhaps on mars
Tubular microtunnels believed to be the trace fossils formed by microbes inhabiting volcanic rock interiors have only been reported in oceanic and subglacial settings.

Crab shell signaling helps control the many faces of cholera, study shows
In humans, cholera is among the world's most deadly diseases, killing as many as 140,000 persons a year, according to World Health Organization statistics.

Latest NTU EOS study shows that slow fault movements may indicate impending earthquakes
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) at its Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) have discovered a way to forecast earthquakes based on slow fault movements caused by moving sub layers of the earth.

Imaging shows impact of PTSD in earthquake survivors
MRI shows surprising differences in brain structure among adult earthquake survivors with and without post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study appearing online in the journal Radiology.

Revealing potential tsunami inundation on California coast
sunami hazard maps exist for California coastlines, but recent geological studies indicated some faults may be capable of unleashing more powerful quakes than previously thought.

Researchers find new cause of strong earthquakes
A geologic event known as diking can cause strong earthquakes -- with a magnitude between 6 and 7, according to an international research team.
More Earthquake Current Events and Earthquake News Articles

Earthquakes

Earthquakes
by The Open University


This 8-hour free course looked at why, where and what happens when earthquakes occur and at how they are assessed qualitatively and quantitatively.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes
by Seymour Simon (Author)


Seymour Simon knows how to explain science to kids and make it fun. He was a teacher for over twenty years, has written more than 250 books, and has won multiple awards. In Earthquakes, Simon introduces elementary-school readers to earthquakes through engaging descriptions and stunning full-color photographs. He teaches readers why and how earthquakes happen and the damage they can cause through pictures, diagrams, and maps. He also gives real life examples of earthquakes that have occurred all over the world. This book includes a glossary and index.Supports the Common Core State Standards

1959 Yellowstone Earthquake, The (Disaster)

1959 Yellowstone Earthquake, The (Disaster)
by Larry E. Morris (Author), Lee Whittlesey (Foreword)


At 11:37 p.m. on August 17, 1959, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake rocked Montana's Yellowstone country. In an instant, an entire mountainside fractured and thundered down onto the sites of unsuspecting campers. The mammoth avalanche generated hurricane-force winds ahead of it that ripped clothing from backs and heaved tidal waves in both directions of the Madison River Canyon. More than two hundred vacationers trapped in the canyon feared the dam upstream would burst. As debris and flooding overwhelmed the river, injured victims frantically searched the darkness for friends and family. Acclaimed historian Larry Morris tells the gripping minute-by-minute saga of the survivors who endured the interminable night, the first responders who risked their lives and the families who waited days and...

Earthquakes (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)

Earthquakes (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
by Franklyn M. Branley (Author), Megan Lloyd (Illustrator)


Read and find out about one of nature’s most mysterious forces—the earthquake. Some earthquakes are so small that you don’t even feel them, while others can make even big buildings shake! Learn why earthquakes happen, where they are most likely to occur, and what to do if one happens near you.Now rebranded with a new cover look and with updated text and art, this classic picture book describes the causes and effects of earthquakes (including a tsunami). This book features rich vocabulary and fascinating cross-sections of mountains, volcanoes, and faults in the earth’s moving crust. The text and art were vetted by Dr. Roland Burgmann, Professor of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley.This is a Level 2 Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out...

Earthquake! (Rise and Shine)

Earthquake! (Rise and Shine)
by National Geographic Learning (Author)


Simple text explains the structure of the Earth and how earthquakes happen. Also included are traditional explanations for earthquakes.

Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House #24) (Magic Tree House (R))

Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House #24) (Magic Tree House (R))
by Mary Pope Osborne (Author), Sal Murdocca (Illustrator)


The #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time celebrates 25 years with new covers and a new, easy-to-use numbering system!

An adventure that will shake you up! That's what Jack and Annie get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to California in 1906. As soon as they arrive, the famous San Francisco earthquake hits the city. Can Jack and Annie save the day? Or will San Francisco be destroyed first?

Did you know that there’s a Magic Tree House book for every kid?

Magic Tree House: Adventures with Jack and Annie, perfect for readers who are just beginning chapter books
Merlin Missions: More challenging adventures for the experienced reader
Super Edition: A longer and more dangerous adventure
Fact Trackers: Nonfiction companions...

Earthquake Terror (Puffin Novel)

Earthquake Terror (Puffin Novel)
by Peg Kehret (Author)


When Jonathan and his family go camping on Magpie Island, they look forward to a fun, relaxing weekend. But their fun quickly vanishes when Jonathan, his sister, Abby, and their dog, Moose, find themselves in the middle of a natural disaster. A devastating earthquake has hit, destroying their camper, knocking out the only bridge to the mainland, and leaving Jonathan, Abby, and their dog with no food, water, or shelter. Alone in the woods, can Jonathan manage to keep calm and save Abby and Moose—and stay alive himself?

What Was the San Francisco Earthquake?

What Was the San Francisco Earthquake?
by Dorothy Hoobler (Author), Thomas Hoobler (Author), Ted Hammond (Illustrator)


In this addition to the What Was? series, kids will experience what it was like to be in San Francisco in 1906 when the ground buckled in a major, catastrophic earthquake.

One early April morning in 1906, the people of San Francisco were jolted awake by a mammoth earthquake—one that registered 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Not only was there major damage from the quake itself but broken gas lines sparked a fire that ravaged the city for days. More than 500 city blocks were destroyed and over 200,000 people were left homeless. But the city quickly managed to rebuild, rising from the ashes to become the major tourist destination it is today. Here's an exciting recount of an incredible disaster.

Earthquakes! (TIME FOR KIDS® Nonfiction Readers)

Earthquakes! (TIME FOR KIDS® Nonfiction Readers)
by Cy Armour (Author)


Early elementary readers find out what causes earthquakes and what to do to stay safe if one occurs in this helpful nonfiction reader. Featuring informational text, colorful maps, diagrams, and vibrant photos, this book keeps children engaged and fascinated at the same time!

About Shell Education
Rachelle Cracchiolo started the company with a friend and fellow teacher. Both were eager to share their ideas and passion for education with other classroom leaders. What began as a hobby, selling lesson plans to local stores, became a part-time job after a full day of teaching, and eventually blossomed into Teacher Created Materials. The story continued in 2004 with the launch of Shell Education and the introduction of professional resources and classroom application books designed...

I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 (I Survived #5)

I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 (I Survived #5)
by Lauren Tarshis (Author)


The terrifying details of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake jump off the page!

Ten-year-old Leo loves being a newsboy in San Francisco -- not only does he get to make some money to help his family, he's free to explore the amazing, hilly city as it changes and grows with the new century. Horse-drawn carriages share the streets with shiny new automobiles, new businesses and families move in every day from everywhere, and anything seems possible.

But early one spring morning, everything changes. Leo's world is shaken -- literally -- and he finds himself stranded in the middle of San Francisco as it crumbles and burns to the ground. Does Leo have what it takes to survive this devastating disaster?

The I SURVIVED series continues with another thrilling story of a boy...

© 2017 BrightSurf.com