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


Rising above the risk: America's first tsunami refuge
Washington's coast is so close to the seismically active Cascadia Subduction Zone that if a megathrust earthquake were to occur, a tsunami would hit the Washington shoreline in just 25 minutes.

Some sections of the San Andreas Fault system in San Francisco Bay Area are locked, overdue
Four urban sections of the San Andreas Fault system in Northern California have stored enough energy to produce major earthquakes, according to a new study that measures fault creep.

NASA's Swift Mission Observes Mega Flares from a Mini Star
On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series of explosions was as much as 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded.

Finding hints of gravitational waves in the stars
Scientists have shown how gravitational waves-invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe-might be "seen" by looking at the stars.

The Bay Area's Next 'Big One' Could Strike as a Series of Quakes
Most people are familiar with the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and are aware of the earthquake risk posed to the Bay Area - and much of California - by the San Andreas Fault.

Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul
When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things: The "seismic gap" may simply be inactive - the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other - or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes, quietly building tension over decades until an inevitable seismic release.

New study reconstructs mega-earthquakes timeline in Indian Ocean
A new study on the frequency of past giant earthquakes in the Indian Ocean region shows that Sri Lanka, and much of the Indian Ocean, is affected by large tsunamis at highly variable intervals, from a few hundred to more than one thousand years.

Biologists try to dig endangered pupfish out of its hole
Scientists estimate that fewer than 100 Devils Hole pupfish remain in their Mojave Desert home, but a conservation biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, is giving important guidance in the efforts to rescue them by establishing a captive breeding program.

Team Develops New, Inexpensive Method for Understanding Earthquake Topography
Using high-resolution topography models not available in the past, geologists can greatly enrich their research. However, current methods of acquisition are costly and require trained personnel with high-tech, cumbersome equipment.

Experts defend operational earthquake forecasting, counter critiques
Experts defend operational earthquake forecasting (OEF) in an editorial published in the Seismological Research Letters (SRL), arguing the importance of public communication as part of a suite of activities intended to improve public safety and mitigate damage from earthquakes.
More Earthquake Current Events and Earthquake News Articles

Earthquake (Earthbound)

Earthquake (Earthbound)
by Aprilynne Pike (Author)


Tavia Michaels has discovered that she’s an Earthbound—a fallen goddess with the power to remake the Earth—and that a rival faction of Earthbounds, the Reduciata, has created a virus that is literally wiping swaths of the planet out of existence. 
 
Tavia is captured and imprisoned before she can act on this information, along with her eternal lover, Logan. Huddled in a claustrophobic cell, they lose track of the days, their attempts to escape proving as ephemeral as Tavia’s newly gestating powers. But then Tavia and Logan are mysteriously rescued. . . .

They’re brought to the underground headquarters of the Curatoria, another group of Earthbounds that Tavia doesn’t fully trust. There, she’s told that she can save the Earth before it disappears. She...

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

DK Readers L4: Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters

DK Readers L4: Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters
by Harriet Griffey (Author)


DK is reissuing some of its most beloved Readers with a fresh new look, perfect for 21st century kids! From the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters brings readers face to face with some of the deadliest natural disasters of all time and teaches the scientific forces that cause these incredible events.

Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault

Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault
by John Dvorak (Author)


The lives of millions will be changed after it breaks, and yet so few people understand it, or even realize it runs through their backyard. Dvorak reveals the San Andreas Fault’s fascinating history—and it’s volatile future.It is a prominent geological feature that is almost impossible to see unless you know where to look. Hundreds of thousands of people drive across it every day. The San Andreas Fault is everywhere, and primed for a colossal quake. For decades, scientists have warned that such a sudden shifting of the Earth’s crust is inevitable. In fact, it is a geologic necessity.The San Andreas fault runs almost the entire length of California, from the redwood forest to the east edge of the Salton Sea. Along the way, it passes through two of the largest urban areas of the...

Torn

Torn


Every 26,000 years the earth experiences a magnetic reversal or pole shift. These reversals are always accompanied by disasters of catastrophic proportions. They also coincide with two other events: an ice age and species extinction.

We are, at this time, 50,000 years overdue.

Darius Cobb wasn’t thinking of man’s extinction. He honestly never gave it a thought. A college professor and part time country singer, Darius worried only about teaching and playing his guitar until the day he is attacked by cockroaches and is placed into a special government quarantine.

There, he and the others start piecing together the inevitable. Using his knowledge, he begins predicting the events that unfold. Together he and his group plan and then implement a long term...

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

Earthquakes (reillustrated) (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.

Earthquakes (True Books: Earth Science)

Earthquakes (True Books: Earth Science)
by Ker Than (Author)


What makes the earth quake, rivers flood, and volcanoes blow their tops? How do natural forces become natural disasters? Buckle your seatbelts and get ready for a bumpy ride to the center of the earth for a look at some of the wildest phenomena in the history of earth science!

Quake

Quake
by Cadle-Sparks Books


A deep rumble in the earth, a screeching noise, and the world begins to shake, throwing people off their feet and hurling buildings to the ground. The New Madrid Fault has ruptured again, wreaking havoc over seven states.

Gale Swanton, city planner for a small Missouri river town, is left in charge when the city manager and mayor are both killed. He struggles to help the townsfolk in the face of broken water mains and impassable roads, with little help from a FEMA overwhelmed by the vast destruction in St. Louis and Memphis.

Tempers fray as food and drinking water run low. Gale and his RN husband struggle to hold together a crumbling community and protect its citizens from their own worst instincts.

And there is more shaking yet to come.


Time For Kids: Earthquakes! (Time for Kids Science Scoops)

Time For Kids: Earthquakes! (Time for Kids Science Scoops)
by Editors of TIME For Kids (Author)


Earthquakes A small earthquake may just rattle some teacups. But a rare huge quake can bring down cities. Those rumblings are a reminder to pay attention to our earth. Scientists keep careful records of quakes around the world. They try to predict when the next one will happen.

Earthquake: Pictures and Information

Earthquake: Pictures and Information


Borrow for FREE with Amazon Prime!

If your little one has read about or experienced an earthquake they are probably very interested in earthquakes. If they would like to know more about what an earthquake is or what causes it this is a great resource for them. Earthquakes in the news always remind us of the incredible power of earthquakes. Download today for all the information you want to know about this powerful act of nature.

© 2014 BrightSurf.com