Lessons From a Tsunami Could Help Protect Seabirds in the Face of Rising Seas

Sudden flooding hit islands of global importance for Pacific birds highlighting threats and opportunities for conservation planning

In a study published Thursday, researchers evaluated the effects of sudden flooding from the Tohoku tsunami on more than 20 bird species nesting on the distant Pacific islands. The results shed light not only on how those birds weathered the dramatic rise in seas from the extreme event, but also how island wildlife may fare with the threat of rising sea levels and increased storm surges.

Young Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) at its nest near the coastline at Midway Atoll, Hawaii

Many seabird species have disappeared from human populated higher islands, and their worldwide distributions are now concentrated on the low-lying islands protected as Wildlife Refuges and Marine National Monuments.

“Much of our Pacific island biodiversity is vulnerable to catastrophic flooding. Many of the bird’s eggs are in low-lying island baskets, so to speak,” said U.S. Geological Survey ecologist, Dr. Michelle Reynolds, lead researcher on the study. “The research here shows that sudden flooding from dramatic events like tsunamis as well as longer-term sea level rise create risks for the birds, but also reveal that there are opportunities to establish breeding colonies at higher elevations. Higher elevation habitat that is free of invasive predators may provide more resilience for island seabirds.”

“Estimates of nest flooding from the tsunami combined with models of sea-level rise flooding and storm wave flooding give us a tool to glimpse into future,” said John Klavitter, co-author of the study and manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. “We can better understand where the populations are most vulnerable to flooding, what proportions of the seabird populations are most vulnerable, and where restoration and invasive predator management may achieve the most long-term value.”

At the far northwestern reaches of the Hawaiian Island chain, protected as part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Laysan Island and the three islands of Midway Atoll have a combined area of about 2,300 acres and a mean elevation of less than 11.5 feet. These islands are used by 6 million to 10 million birds including the world’s largest colonies of Black-footed and Laysan albatrosses, and the global populations of endangered Laysan teal.

An aerial photograph of Laysan Island, Hawaii, part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. USGS photo July 2010

Catastrophic flooding of Pacific islands occurs periodically not only from tsunamis but also from storm surge and rainfall. With rising sea levels, the frequency of flooding events will likely increase. To understand where and which bird populations are most vulnerable to sudden flooding, the spatial extent of flooding from the 2011 Tohoku tsunami was detailed on the islands of Laysan and Midway Atoll. The spatial boundary of flooding on each island was then combined with bird nesting data. Species that nest near the coast, nest simultaneously, or have strong nest site and island fidelity are identified as more sensitive to population declines from island over-wash events.

The scientists estimated the 2011 tsunami flooded 26 to 52 percent of the Black-footed albatross nests concentrated on the coast of islands and that across the four islands more than 275,000 Black-footed and Laysan albatross and Bonin petrel nests were flooded. Populations of endemic land birds, such as the Laysan teal were especially vulnerable to the longer-term habitat changes from catastrophic flooding.

This study and recent research describing potential inundation from sea level rise and storm wave highlight the vulnerability of these low islands to wave over-wash and the opportunity restore species to the higher islands. The researchers hope the information can help natural resource managers make decisions about where restoration and conservation efforts can have the most long-lasting effects.

Map of the 11 March 2011 Tohoku earthquake epicenter in relation to the Northwestern and main Hawaiian Islands

The study “Lessons from the Tohoku tsunami: a model for island avifauna conservation prioritization” was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution by USGS authors Michelle Reynolds and Karen Courtot, Paul Berkowitz of Hawaii Cooperative Study Unit at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and John Klavitter of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake Off Southern Point of the Big Island

A 4.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of the Big Island around 6:30 this morning.

Magnitudeuncertainty 4.5 ml± 0.2
Locationuncertainty 18.410°N 155.517°W± 3.3 km
Depthuncertainty 36.5 km± 8.5
Origin Time

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued the following alert:

TO – EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT – LOCAL TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT

THIS STATEMENT IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. NO ACTION REQUIRED.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

  •    ORIGIN TIME – 0631 AM HST 18 DEC 2016
  •    COORDINATES – 18.3 NORTH  155.5 WEST
  •    LOCATION    – IN THE DEEP OCEAN SOUTH OF SOUTH    POINT
  •    MAGNITUDE   – 4.5

EVALUATION:  NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED. REPEAT. NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED.  HOWEVER…SOME AREAS MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED SHAKING.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.

3.8 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of the Big Island

UPDATE: The earthquake was upgraded to a 3.8 magnitude quake.

A 3.7 3.8 magnitude earthquake just shook the Volcano area of the Big Island of Hawaii:

Magnitudeuncertainty 3.8 ml± 0.3
Locationuncertainty 19.299°N 155.210°W± 0.3 km
Depthuncertainty 9.5 km± 0.3
Origin Time
Number of Stations 60
Number of Phases 92
Minimum Distance 2.4 km (0.02°)
Travel Time Residual 0.26 s
Azimuthal Gap 119°
FE Region ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII (613)

Remembering Hawaii’s Largest Earthquake – 7.2 Magnitude, Tsunami and Two Deaths

On this day in history, the largest earthquake in over a century struck Hawaii the morning of November 29, 1975, at 4:48 AM HST. The earthquake was of magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale.

largest Hawaii Earthquake

It was centered about 5 km beneath the Kalapana area on the southeastern coast of Hawaii, the largest island of the Hawaiian chain  and was preceded by numerous foreshocks.

The event was accompanied, or followed shortly, by a tsunami, large-scale ground movements, hundreds of aftershocks, an eruption in the summit caldera of Kilauea Volcano.

The earthquake and the tsunami it generated produced about 4.1 million dollars in property damage, and the tsunami caused two deaths.

3.7 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of Big Island

A 3.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Volcano area of the Big Island today.

37-volcanoThis follows the 3.6 magnitude earthquake that shook the same area of the Big Island yesterday.

3.6 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of the Big Island

A 3.4 3,6 (updated) magnitude earthquake shook the Volcano area of the Big Island at 10:37 this morning.

34-volcano-1026No tsunami was generated from this quake and no damage has been reported.

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Kona Area of Big Island of Hawaii

A 4.1 magnitude earthquake was just registered in the Kailua-Kona area of the Big Island.
41 Kona
No tsunami was generated from it.  Full report here:  http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/hv61350131#executive

UPDATE:

New Alert: Tsunami Information (Hawaiian Islands) – On The Western Flank Of Mauna Loa – 4.0,
INFORMATION, A Tsunami Information has been issued by NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI for ON THE WESTERN FLANK OF MAUNA LOA at July 23, 07:20:00 GMT.

TSUNAMI SEISMIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NUMBER 1
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
920 PM HST FRI JUL 22 2016

TO – EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT – LOCAL TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT

THIS STATEMENT IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. NO ACTION REQUIRED.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME – 0916 PM HST 22 JUL 2016
COORDINATES – 19.5 NORTH 155.9 WEST
LOCATION – ON THE WESTERN FLANK OF MAUNA LOA
MAGNITUDE – 4.0

EVALUATION:

NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED. REPEAT. NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.

3.5 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of the Big Island of Hawaii

A 3.5 magnitude earthquake shook the Volcano area of the Big Island this afternoon:

35 volcano 3716

Small Earthquake at Summit of Pu’u O’o – Lava Flows Onto Floor of Crater

A small earthquake of magnitude 3.6 occurred yesterday evening at 6 p.m. near the summit of the volcano. Over the past 24 hours, small amounts of lava flowed onto the floor of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

The summit lava lake on 2/12/16.  Photo via USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The summit lava lake on 2/12/16. Photo via USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (click to enlarge)

Webcam images show that small amounts of lava flowed onto the crater floor from two of the incandescent vents within the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. Yesterday, shortly before noon, and at around 10 p.m., lava flowed onto the floor from a vent on the east side of the crater, while this morning at around 6 a.m., lava flowed from one of the vents on the west side of the crater.

This current image is from a temporary thermal camera positioned on the northwest flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, looking southeast at Puʻu ʻŌʻō's summit crater.  The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit) for this camera model, and scales automatically based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame.  Thick fume, image pixel size and other factors often result in image temperatures being lower than actual surface temperatures.

This current image is from a temporary thermal camera positioned on the northwest flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, looking southeast at Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s summit crater. The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit) for this camera model, and scales automatically based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame. Thick fume, image pixel size and other factors often result in image temperatures being lower than actual surface temperatures.

3.9 Magnitude Earthquake in Volcano Area of the Big Island

A 3.9 magnitude earthquake was registered today in the Volcano area of the Big Island of Hawaii.

39 volcano2No tsunami was generated from this earthquake.

3.6 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake shook the Volcano area of the Big Island around 10:21 this morning.

36 a volcanoNo tsunami was generated from this event.

3.4 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of Big Island

A 3.4 magnitude earthquake shook the Volcano area of the Big Island this morning.

34 VolcanoNo tsunami was generated by today’s earthquake.

Mauna Loa Weekly Earthquake Rates Since 2010

Yesterday, Hawaii Volcano Observatory elevated the advisory level for Mauna Loa and now folks all over the Big Island are wondering when and if she will erupt again!

Here are the Mauna Loa weekly earthquake rates between 2010 and September 17, 2015.

mauna loa earthquake rates
TOP: Blue bars indicate the number of earthquakes that were located by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory seismic network. Earthquakes of all magnitudes are plotted. Subtle increases in earthquake rates started in mid-2013, while more obvious changes in rates started in 2014.

BOTTOM: Change in distance across Mauna Loa’s summit caldera between 2010 and September 17, 2015. Blue dots indicate the relative distance between two stations that span the summit caldera of Mauna Loa, shown in the map on the upper left. Sustained extension across the caldera started in mid-2014. This extension is one of the indicators of magma infilling a complex reservoir system beneath the summit and upper Southwest Rift Zone.

Big Island Earthquake Upgraded to 5.2 Magnitude

The earthquake that happened yesterday evening has been upgraded to a 5.2 magnitude earthquake.

This follows a previous update of 5.0 and 4.9 as previously reported.
52 big island

NO TSUNAMI EXPECTED FROM BIG ISLAND EARTHQUAKE

TO – EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT – LOCAL TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT

THIS STATEMENT IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. NO ACTION REQUIRED.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

50 Big Island

  •    ORIGIN TIME – 1010 PM HST 27 JUN 2015
  •    COORDINATES – 19.3 NORTH 155.2 WEST
  •    LOCATION   – IN THE HILINA REGION OF KILAUEA VOLCANO
  •    MAGNITUDE   – 4.8

EVALUATION

NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED. REPEAT. NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED.

HOWEVER…SOME AREAS MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED SHAKING.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS

ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.

 

3.5 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of the Big Island

A 3.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Volcano area of the Big Island around noon today.

35volcanoNo tsunami was generated.

Two 3.3 Magnitude Earthquakes Rattle Volcano Area of Big Island

Two earthquakes registering 3.3 magnitude (UPDATE: one of them has been updated to a 3.4 magnitude quake) on the Richter Scale were registered in the Volcano area of the Big Island this evening.

33 x 2 VolcanoHere is a close up of where they were located:
33 x 3

Here are the links to the latest earthquake reports:

18 Earthquakes Swarm Summit Where Lava is Coming From

18 earthquakes were registered within a few minutes of each other early this morning near the Pu’u O’o crater!

 

Summit Observations: Weak inflationary ground tilt recorded at the summit over the past 3+ days continued to weaken. There was a swarm of earthquakes in the upper east rift zone early this morning; 18 quakes occurred within a few minutes of 1 am.

11015earthquakesThe summit lava lake has shown minor fluctuations associated with changes in spattering behavior, which are also manifested as variations in tremor amplitudes and gas release but no net change in level which was measured at around 48 m (160 ft) below the lip of the Overlook crater Tuesday morning.

Thermal image of the caldera.

Thermal image of the crater.

Small amounts of particulate material were carried aloft by the plume. The average emission rate of sulfur dioxide was around 5,400 tonnes/day for the week ending on January 6.

11015pic

Lava flow behind Pahoa Market Place right now.

 

3.2 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Waikoloa Area of the Big Island

A 3.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Waikoloa area of the Big Island this afternoon.

32 waikoloa

 

3.1 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Hawaii Ocean View Estates Area of the Big Island

A 3.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Hawaii Ocean View Estates (H.O.V.E.) area of the Big Island today.  No tsunami was generated from it:
31 HOVE