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


Dwindling bird populations in Fukushima
This is the time of year when birds come out and really spread their wings, but since a disastrous day just before spring's arrival four years ago, Japan's Fukushima province has not been friendly to the feathered.

Researchers test smartphones for earthquake warning
Smartphones and other personal electronic devices could, in regions where they are in widespread use, function as early warning systems for large earthquakes according to newly reported research.

Newly discovered link between Calaveras, Hayward faults means potentially larger quakes
University of California, Berkeley seismologists have proven that the Hayward Fault is essentially a branch of the Calaveras Fault that runs east of San Jose, which means that both could rupture together, resulting in a significantly more destructive earthquake than previously thought.

Seabed samples rewrite earthquake history near Istanbul
Located in the Marmara Sea, major earthquakes along the North Anatolian Fault (NAF) system have repeatedly struck what is current-day Istanbul and the surrounding region, but determining the recurrence rate has proven difficult since the faults are offshore.

Finding fault: New information may help understand earthquakes
New modeling and analyses of fault geometry in the Earth's crust by geoscientist Michele Cooke and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are advancing knowledge about fault development in regions where one geologic plate slides past or over another, such as along California's San Andreas Fault and the Denali Fault in central Alaska.

Friction means Antarctic glaciers more sensitive to climate change than we thought
One of the biggest unknowns in understanding the effects of climate change today is the melting rate of glacial ice in Antarctica.

Pre-1950 structures suffered the most damage from August 2014 Napa quake
An analysis of buildings tagged red and yellow by structural engineers after the August 2014 earthquake in Napa links pre-1950 buildings and the underlying sedimentary basin to the greatest shaking damage, according to one of six reports on the Napa quake published in the March/April issue of Seismological Research Letters (SRL).

A new level of earthquake understanding
As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes?

EARTH Magazine: Hazard lingers after South Napa earthquake
Napa Valley earthquake, movement continued along the principal fault to the north of the epicenter, according to a report released by the U.S. Geological Survey.

How the landscape of the pancreatic cancer genome is coming into view
Scientists from Australia and the UK have done the most in-depth analysis yet of 100 pancreatic cancer genomes and highlighted 4 subtypes that may help guide future patient treatment.
More Earthquake Current Events and Earthquake News Articles

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.

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

Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest

Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest
by Sandi Doughton (Author)


Scientists have identified Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver as the urban centers of what will be the biggest earthquake, also called a mega-quake, in the continental United States. A quake will happen--in fact it's actually overdue. The Cascadia subduction zone is 750 miles long, running along the Pacific coast from Northern California up to southern British Columbia. In this fascinating book, The Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton introduces readers to the scientists who are dedicated to understanding the way the earth moves and describes what patterns can be identified and how prepared (or not) people are. With a 100% chance of a mega-quake hitting the Pacific Northwest, this fascinating book reports on the scientists who are trying to understand when, where, and just how big...

A Study of Recent Earthquakes

A Study of Recent Earthquakes


This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

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 its 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...

Richter Ten

Richter Ten


Never get between greedy men and eight billion dollars worth of anything---words to live by, as geophysicist Steven Bell is finding out. In Eastern Oregon, 90,000 cubic feet of mantle-hot gas is roaring out of the Devil's Pore fumarole every second. To Bell, this is just a "leak," a pinhole, relatively speaking. But what is leaking? Where is all that gas coming from? And why is 700 square miles of land subsiding, inch by inch, year by year? The fumarole, it turns out, is just the visible tip of an iceberg. A disaster of monstrous proportions is brewing. Bell wants the fumarole plugged in order to study the problem, but the hot gas is carrying with it a rare-earth element worth billions, an element with military applications. The U.S. government wants Bell to shut up and go away; Drew...

Earthquakes: Geology & Preparedness for a Fractured Earth

Earthquakes: Geology & Preparedness for a Fractured Earth
by Choice PH


With recent earthquakes around the world from the Chilean Earthquake (8.2) to the California Earthquake in La Habra (5.1), more than ever we are awakened to the realization we have to prepare for the big one. No one can predict when and where the "BIG ONE" will strike, but seismologists believe it is inevitable.

This short eBook takes a closer look at the history of California Earthquakes, fault lines, how seismic activity is no longer measured using the richter scale, and how earthquakes and tsunamis are related. And of course, this book would not be complete without a discussion on earthquake preparedness...what you and your family can do to prepare and best survive a major earthquake and its aftermath.

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! (Natural Disasters)

Earthquake! (Natural Disasters)
by Marion Dane Bauer (Author), John Wallace (Illustrator)


What causes an earthquake is a mystery -- until you go deep beneath the Earth's surface. Read on to find out what causes the incredibly destructive natural disaster -- the earthquake!

© 2015 BrightSurf.com