Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rebirth Of An Island After Volcanic Eruption

Date:
January 6, 2010
Source:
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Summary:
When Alaska's Kasatochi Volcano erupted on Aug. 7, 2008, it virtually sterilized Kasatochi Island, covering the small Aleutian island with a layer of ash and other volcanic material several meters thick. The eruption also provided a rare research opportunity: the chance to see how an ecosystem develops from the very first species to colonize the island.

Kasatochi volcano as seen from 17,000 feet above sea level on Oct. 23, 2008.
Credit: Image courtesy of Jerry Morris / via Alaska Volcano Observatory

When Alaska's Kasatochi Volcano erupted on Aug. 7, 2008, it virtually sterilized Kasatochi Island, covering the small Aleutian island with a layer of ash and other volcanic material several meters thick. The eruption also provided a rare research opportunity: the chance to see how an ecosystem develops from the very first species to colonize the island.

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, almost exactly one year after the catastrophic eruption. The interdisciplinary research team will spend four days (Aug. 10-13) surveying the island, using the USFWS research vessel Tiglax as an operational base for the on-site research.

"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.

According to the USFWS, the Kasatochi study is unique in that it takes place in an isolated marine ecosystem for which there are pre-eruption ecological data for the island and its nearby marine waters, including data from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge dating from the mid-1990s and from Sikes' 2008 field work on the island.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alaska Fairbanks. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Rebirth Of An Island After Volcanic Eruption." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806170721.htm>.
University of Alaska Fairbanks. (2010, January 6). Rebirth Of An Island After Volcanic Eruption. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806170721.htm
University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Rebirth Of An Island After Volcanic Eruption." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806170721.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins