Hurricane Maria’s impacts on deep-water coral reefs off Puerto Rico

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USGS research geologist Curt Storlazzi was quoted in an August 22 Nature news article about Hurricane Maria’s effects on deep-water coral reefs off Puerto Rico.

Underwater photo of a sandy and rocky reef environment with a tray of equipment held down on the rocky area with weights.

Instrument package mounted to the seaward slope of a coral reef off southwestern Puerto Rico.

USGS research geologist Curt Storlazzi was quoted in an August 22 Nature news article about Hurricane Maria’s effects on deep-water coral reefs off Puerto Rico. Storlazzi’s collaborators from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez placed USGS instrument packages on the steep seaward slope of a reef off the island’s southwest coast in July 2017 to study reef structure and health. The sensors continued to collect data when Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, swept from east to west across the island in September 2017. The corals appeared healthy a few months after the storm when the sensors were recovered. Preliminary analysis by Storlazzi and others indicates that the hurricane sent waves crashing into the reef with unusual frequency and pushed a swell of cold water from the ocean bottom up to the reef.