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Guam

Satellite image of the island of Guam.

IKONOS satellite image

Overview

The Territory of Guam is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States. The island itself is 30 miles (48 km) long and 4 mi (6 km) to 12 mi (19 km) wide. It is the southernmost island in the Marianas island chain and is the largest island in Micronesia. Unlike many of the northern Marianas islands, Guam is not volcanically active. The northern part of the island is a forested coralline limestone plateau while the south contains volcanic peaks covered in forest and grassland. A coral reef surrounds most of the island, except in areas where bays exist that provide access to small rivers and streams that run down from the hills into the Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea.

Motivation

Human activity has significantly increased the rate of sedimentation along many areas of Guam’s coastline. These human activities are related primarily to land-management practices, including urban development, unregulated use of off-road vehicles, and illegal wildfires. The wildfires, which are intentionally set by hunters to clear lines of sight and draw in new game, remove the grasses and small trees that stabilize the soil. Typhoons strike Guam frequently, commonly dropping more than 30 cm of rain in 24 hours and flushing the unstabilized soil down to the coast and into the nearshore waters.

The USGS is working with the National Park Service on the west coast of the island to help determine the effects of sedimentation in the nearshore waters, including those of War-in-the-Pacific National Historical Park. This is especially significant because the wet season (July to December), during which time large amounts of unstabilized soil wash down to the ocean, coincides with peak coral spawning and larvae settlement. Other partners in these efforts include NOAA, U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) Guam Local Action Strategy (LAS) for Land-Based Pollution (LBP), University of Guam, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI).

Products

Divided by theme (Note: some products are listed multiple times as they cross multiple themes)

Mapping

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3089, 4 p.

Circulation and sediment dynamics

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and Airoldi, L., 2014, The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation: Nature Communications, 5:3794, doi:10.1038/ncomms4794. [download PDF]

Prouty, N.G., Storlazzi, C.D., McCutcheon, A.L., and Jenson, J.W., 2014, Historic impact of watershed change and sedimentation to reefs along western Guam: Coral Reefs, doi:10.1007/s00338-014-1166-x.

Storlazzi, C.D., Cheriton, O.M., Lescinski, J.M.R., and Logan, J.B., 2014, Coastal circulation and water-column properties in the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam—Measurements and modeling of waves, currents, temperature, salinity, and turbidity, April–August 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1130, 104 p.

Field, M.E., Chezar, H., and Storlazzi, C.D., 2012, SedPods—A low-cost coral proxy for measuring net sedimentation: Coral Reefs, v.32, p. 155–159, doi:10.1007/s00338-012-0953-5.

Stock, J.D., Cochran, S.A., Field, M.E, Jacobi, J.D., and Tribble, G., 2011, From ridge to reef—Linking erosion and changing watersheds to impacts on coral reef ecosystems in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Ocean: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3049, 4 p.

Storlazzi, C.D., Field, M.E, and Bothner, M.H., 2011, The use (and misuse) of sediment traps in coral reef environments; Theory, observations, and suggested protocols: Coral Reefs, v. 30, no. 1, p. 23-38, doi:10.1007/s00338-010-0705-3.

Storlazzi, C.D., Presto, M.K., and Logan, J.B., 2009, Coastal circulation and sediment dynamics in War-in-the-Pacific National Historical Park, Guam; Measurements of waves, currents, temperature, salinity, and turbidity, July 2007-January 2008: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009–1195, 79 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3089, 4 p.

Field, M.E., 2005, Living with change; Response of the seafloor to natural events, in Barnes, P.W., and Thomas, J.P., eds., Benthic habitats and the effects of fishing; American Fisheries Society Symposium 41, Proceedings of Symposium on effects of fishing activities on benthic habitats; Linking geology, biology, socioeconomics, and management, Tampa, FL, 12-14 November 2002: Bethesda, MD, American Fisheries Society, p. 215–218.

Climate change

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and Airoldi, L., 2014, The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation: Nature Communications, 5:3794, doi:10.1038/ncomms4794 [download PDF]

Storlazzi, C.D., Field, M.E., Cheriton, O.M., Presto, M.K., and Logan, J.B., 2013, Rapid fluctuations in flow and water-column properties in Asan Bay, Guam: implications for selective resilience of coral reefs in warming seas: Coral Reefs, v. 32, p. 949–961, doi:10.1007/s00338-013-1061-x.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3089, 4 p.

Jokiel, P.L., 2004, Temperature stress and coral bleaching, in Rosenberg, E., and Loya, Y., eds., Coral Health and Disease, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, p. 401–425.

Future reefs

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and Airoldi, L., 2014, The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation: Nature Communications, 5:3794, doi:10.1038/ncomms4794 [download PDF]

Storlazzi, C.D., Cheriton, O.M., Lescinski, J.M.R., and Logan, J.B., 2014, Coastal circulation and water-column properties in the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam—Measurements and modeling of waves, currents, temperature, salinity, and turbidity, April–August 2012: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1130, 104 p.

Other selected works

Coral Reefs Provide Critical Coastal Protection

Coral reefs along west-central Guam—Historical impact of watershed change and sedimentation

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Page Last Modified: 12 December 2014 (sac)