Kasatochi volcano, an island volcano in the Aleutian chain, erupted on 7-8 August 2008. The resulting ash and pyroclastic flows blanketed the island, covering terrestrial habitats. We surveyed the marine environment surrounding Kasatochi Island in June and July of 2009 to document changes in abundance or distribution of nutrients, fish, and marine birds near the island when compared to patterns observed on earlier surveys conducted in 1996 and 2003. Analysis of SeaWiFS satellite imagery indicated that a large chlorophyll-a anomaly may have been the result of ash fertilization during the eruption. We found no evidence of continuing marine fertilization from terrestrial runoff 10 months after the eruption. At-sea surveys in June 2009 established that the most common species of seabirds at Kasatochi prior to the eruption, namely crested auklets (Aethia cristatella) and least auklets (Aethia pusilla) had returned to Kasatochi in relatively high numbers. Densities from more extensive surveys in July 2009 were compared with pre-eruption densities around Kasatochi and neighboring Ulak and Koniuji islands, but we found no evidence of an eruption effect. Crested and least auklet populations were not significantly reduced by the initial explosion and they returned to attempt breeding in 2009, even though nesting habitat had been rendered unusable. Maps of pre- and post-eruption seabird distribution anomalies indicated considerable variation, but we found no evidence that observed distributions were affected by the 2008 eruption. ?? 2010 Regents of the University of Colorado.
Additional publication details
At-sea observations of marine birds and their habitats before and after the 2008 eruption of Kasatochi volcano, Alaska