Lisa Ely and CWU Students Investigate Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Chile

Lisa and Tina describe stratigraphy near Tirua, Chile
Lisa and Tina describe stratigraphy near Tirua, Chile. The indented layers are sand deposits from at least four separate tsunamis that have inundated this site in the past. The most recent tsunami was in February, 2010.

CWU Geology Professor Lisa Ely and former CWU student Tina Dura spent the month of January, 2012 conducting field studies to document and examine the impacts of large earthquakes and tsunamis along the central coast of Chile. Tina, who is now working on her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, is using diatom microfossils in coastal marsh sediments to quantify the amount of coastal uplift during large subduction zone earthquakes and the degree of subsidence between earthquake events. The diatoms are very sensitive to the changes in environment, so identifying the changes in the diatom species present in buried sediment layers can tell us how the land level has varied in the past. Dr. Ely recently received 3 years of funding from the National Science Foundation to continue geomorphic and sedimentological studies of the coastal response to Chilean earthquakes, along with colleagues from the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso Chile, the University of Pennsylvania, and th U.S. Geological Survey.

See earlier posts in the Out There listings for descriptions of the earlier work done in this region by Lisa and her students and colleagues.

The coastline near Tubul, Chile before the recent large earthquake and tsunami The same stretch of coastline afterward
Matched photos of the bay at Tubul, Chile before and after ~1.5 meters of uplift during the earthquake on February 27, 2010. The former embayment and boat dock for the town of Tubul was uplifted above the high tide level, and is already being colonized by marsh and land plants.