Valdez Marine Life Slow to Recover After 1964 Quake

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

University of Alaska Fairbanks research shows tiny marine life in Port Valdez was slow to recover following the 1964 earthquake. UAF scientists tracked invertebrates in deep water and intertidal zones of Port Valdez following the 9.2 magnitude quake.  Their findings were recently published in the Journal: Marine Environmental Research.  Assistant Research professor Arny Blanchard, says it took decades for some species to recover after the quake moved massive amounts of sediment over the deep sea floor.

Blanchard says a study led by UAF’s Dr. Howard Feder that looked at the tsunami scoured near shore environment of Port Valdez, also showed drawn out recovery for some species, like mussels. Blanchard says the research may transfer to other more recently earthquake impacted areas like Japan and Indonesia.

Blanchard says the shape of the glacial formed fjord at Port Valdez restricts water exchange between surface and deeper environments, a challenge to rebuilding marine life after a catastrophic event like an earthquake and tsunami.

Download Audio (MP3)