Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers to study rebirth of an island after volcanic eruption

10.08.2009
Fairbanks, Alaska- When Alaska's Kasatochi Volcano erupted on Aug. 7, 2008, it virtually sterilized Kasatochi Island.

The eruption covered the small Aleutian island with a layer of ash and other volcanic material several meters thick. It also provided a rare research opportunity: the chance to see how an ecosystem develops from the very first species to colonize an area.

Next week, a team of researchers organized by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will visit Kasatochi to look for signs of life on the island. The interdisciplinary research team, including two scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will spend four days surveying the island, using the USFWS research vessel Tiglax as an operational base for the on-site research. The team leaves Sunday.

"Since volcanism plays such a big role in shaping the Aleutians, we hope to end up with a better understanding of how disturbances such as volcanic eruptions shape the ecology of these islands," says Tony DeGange, a USGS biologist and one of the research team coordinators. "There hasn't been a study quite like this done in Alaska where scientists are taking such a comprehensive ecological view of the impact of an eruption and its resulting response and recovery."

Researchers expect that insects and birds will be the first animal species that recolonize the island. In preparation for the August survey, biologists set up monitoring and sampling equipment on Kasatochi earlier this summer, including insect traps for Derek Sikes, curator of insects at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Sikes visited Kasatochi in June 2008 for a one-day survey of the insect fauna on the island before the eruption. He will be part of the research team that visits the island next week.

"Work in similar systems shows that flying and wind-borne insects and spiders form a fairly constant rain during the summer months," says Sikes, adding that some of these species survive by preying or scavenging on other arthropods. "We'll be looking for spiders, which are all predators, and ground beetles, which are mostly predators, as well as other species associated with bird droppings or vertebrate carrion."

An opportunity like this is extremely rare, according to Sikes. The most comparable example is the emergence of Surtsey Island off the coast of Iceland in 1963, when undersea volcanic eruptions reached the surface. That island was declared a United Nations World Heritage Site for its role as a pristine natural laboratory. Even today, access to Surtsey remains restricted to a small number of researchers each year who study the species that have colonized the island over the past 40 years.

Stephen Jewett, a research professor at UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, is also part of the research team. Jewett is a scientific diver and ecologist whose research focuses on organisms that live on or near the seafloor.

Jewett's role in the project is to assess the damage to the near-shore marine community and its recovery. He said that preliminary assessments by scuba divers in June found little marine life to depths of 10 meters.

"The circumference of the island grew substantially because of the eruption. Dense and diverse kelp beds were wiped out," Jewett said. "We have been given a unique opportunity not only to measure the degree of destruction, but to also begin long-term monitoring of the recovery of the near-shore marine environment."

According to the USFWS, the Kasatochi study is unique in that it takes place in an isolated ecosystem and can draw on pre-eruption ecological data dating from the mid-1990s for the island and its nearby marine waters.

This summer's work is funded by the North Pacific Research Board, USGS and USFWS. According to DeGange, it is expected to be the first phase of a long-term ecological study.

CONTACT: Kerynn Fisher, University of Alaska Museum of the North communications coordinator, at 907-474-6941, 907-378-2559 or klfisher@alaska.edu; Catherine Puckett, U.S. Geological Survey public affairs specialist, at 352-264-3532 or cpuckett@usgs.gov; Bruce Woods, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Alaska Region spokesperson, at 907-786-3695 or bruce_woods@fws.gov. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or marmian.grimes@alaska.edu.

Kerynn Fisher | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.alaska.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

nachricht What makes erionite carcinogenic?
13.01.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solar Collectors from Ultra-High Performance Concrete Combine Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics

16.01.2017 | Trade Fair News

3D scans for the automotive industry

16.01.2017 | Automotive Engineering

Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

16.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>