Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Port Valdez invertebrates stabilized 26 years after quake

26.04.2011
It took 26 years for marine invertebrates living on the Port Valdez seafloor to stabilize after Alaska's Great Earthquake of 1964, according to a scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"The earthquake, which measured 9.2 on the Richter scale, and the tsunami waves that followed, impacted every marine community in Prince William Sound," said Arny Blanchard,, a research assistant professor at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Four decades of monitoring, including samples collected last year, have confirmed that the seafloor now resembles that of an undisturbed glacial fjord.

Blanchard’s findings, along with those of Howard Feder, UAF professor emeritus, and Max Hoberg, UAF researcher, were published in the journal Marine Environmental Research. The findings shed light on how long it takes for seafloor ecosystems to recover after earthquakes.

The 1964 earthquake and resulting tsunami wreaked havoc on intertidal beaches and seafloor of Port Valdez, according to Feder, the leader of the biological component of the project from 1971 to 1990. Marine plants and animals on Port Valdez beaches were destroyed by the tsunami while the earthquake deposited massive amounts of sediment on the seafloor. This caused the whole community of bottom-dwelling marine invertebrates-- such as sea worms, snails and clams-- to change.

Some seafloor invertebrates usually found in glacial fjords like Port Valdez, such as the sea worms Terebellides stroemi and Galathowenia oculata, virtually disappeared. Other animals took advantage of the disturbance and colonized the area. One of those animals is a family of sea worms called Capitellidae. They became unusually dominant in the region for a few years. According to Blanchard, Capitellidae are known for being highly opportunistic and tolerant of disturbance.

The diversity and abundance of marine invertebrates in Port Valdez was highly variable from 1971 to 1989 compared to other glacial fjords, primarily as a result of the earthquake. Over time, the community of animals stabilized. Today, the balance of bottom-dwelling animals looks more like an undisturbed glacial fjord.

"The ecosystem was in such flux that responses by seafloor communities to regional climatic variability were masked by the recovery process," said Blanchard.

Samples collected in 2010 marked the fourth decade of sampling in Port Valdez, making it one of the longest-running research projects at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The Port Valdez study resulted in numerous scientific publications, including three books, and provided research opportunities for more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students.

The project began as an investigation of the Port Valdez ecosystem prior to the construction of the Port Valdez marine oil terminal. The study is multidisciplinary, with Blanchard currently leading the biological component. An important part of the project includes looking at the potential effects on seafloor animals of wastewater and treated ballast water discharges at the terminal. David Shaw, professor emeritus at UAF, has been the leader of the hydrocarbon chemistry component of the project since 1976. Scientists say that effects on animals on intertidal beaches and the seafloor from wastewater discharged by the terminal have been minor.

The Port Valdez project is funded by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

The School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. 60 faculty scientists and 150 students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.

Carin Stephens | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.alaska.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | 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

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>