Historical and pre-historical tsunamis in the Mediterranean and its connected seas: Geological signatures, generation mechanisms and coastal impacts

Papadopoulos, Gerassimos A.
Gracia, Eulalia
Urgeles, Roger
Sallares, Valenti
De Martini, Paolo Marco
Pantosti, Daniela
Gonzalez, Mauricio
Yalçıner, Ahmet Cevdet
Mascle, Jean
Sakellariou, Dimitris
Salamon, Amos
Tinti, Stefano
Karastathis, Vassilis
Fokaefs, Anna
Camerlenghi, Angelo
Novikova, Tatyana
Papageorgiou, Antonia
The origin of tsunamis in the Mediterranean region and its connected seas, including the Marmara Sea, the Black Sea and the SW Iberian Margin in the NE Atlantic Ocean, is reviewed within the geological and seismotectonic settings of the region. A variety of historical documentary sources combined with evidence from onshore and offshore geological signatures, geomorphological imprints, observations from selected coastal archeological sites, as well as instrumental records, eyewitnesses accounts and pictorial material, clearly indicate that tsunami sources both seismic and non-seismic (e.g. volcanism, landslides) can be found in all the seas of the region with a variable tsunamigenic potential. Local, regional and basin-wide tsunamis have been documented. An improved map of 22 main tsunamigenic zones and their relative potential for tsunami generation is presented. From west to east, the most important tsunamigenic zones are situated offshore SW Iberia, in the North Algerian margin, in the Tyrrhenian Calabria and Messina Straits, in the western and eastern segments of the Hellenic Arc, in the Corinth Gulf of Central Greece, in the Levantine Sea offshore the Dead Sea Transform Fault and in the eastern side of the Marmara Sea. Important historical examples, including destructive tsunamis associated with large earthquakes, are presented. The mean recurrence of strong tsunamis in the several basins varies greatly but the highest event frequency (1/96 years) is observed in the east Mediterranean basin. For most of the historical events it is still unclear which was the causative seismic source and if the tsunami was caused by co-seismic slip, by earthquake-triggered submarine landslides or by a combination of both mechanisms. In pre-historical times, submarine volcanic eruptions (i.e. caldera collapse, massive pyroclastic flows, volcanogenic landslides) and large submarine landslides caused important tsunamis although little is known about their source mechanisms. We conclude that further investigation of the tsunami generation mechanisms is of primary importance in the Mediterranean region. Inputs from tsunami numerical modeling as well as from empirical discrimination criteria for characterizing tsunami sources have been proved particularly effective for recent, well-documented, aseismic landslide tsunamis (e.g., 1963 Corinth Gulf, 1979 Cote d'Azur, 1999 Izmit Bay, 2002 Stromboli volcano). Since the tsunami generation mechanisms are controlled by a variety of factors, and given that the knowledge of past tsunami activity is the cornerstone for undertaking tsunami risk mitigation action, future interdisciplinary research efforts on past tsunamis are needed.


Origin and interactions of fluids circulating over the Amik Basin (Hatay, Turkey) and relationships with the hydrologic, geologic and tectonic settings
YÜCE, GALİP; Italiano, F.; D'Alessandro, W.; Yalcin, T. H.; YASİN, DİDEM; Gulbay, A. H.; ÖZYURT, NACİYE NUR; Rojay, Fuat Bora; KARABACAK, VOLKAN; Bellomo, S.; Brusca, L.; Yang, T.; Fu, C. C.; Lai, C. W.; Özacar, Atilla Arda; Walia, V. (Elsevier BV, 2014-11-21)
We investigated the geochemical features of the fluids circulating over the Amik Basin (SE Turkey-Syria border), which is crossed by the Northern extension of the DSF (Dead Sea Fault) and represents the boundary area of three tectonic plates (Anatolian, Arabian and African plates). We collected 34 water samples (thermal and cold from natural springs and boreholes) as well as 8 gas samples (bubbling and gas seepage) besides the gases dissolved in the sampled waters. The results show that the dissolved gas ph...
Seismic stratigraphy of Late Quaternary sediments of western Mersin Bay shelf, (NE Mediterranean Sea)
Okyar, M; Ergin, M; Evans, G (Elsevier BV, 2005-10-15)
High-resolution shallow seismic-reflection profiles obtained from the western Mersin Bay have revealed the existence of the two distinct depositional sequences (C and B) lying on a narrow and relatively steeply-sloping continental shelf which mainly receives its sediments from the ephemeral rivers. The upper Holocene sedimentary sequence (C) is characterized by stratified (simple to complex) to chaotic reflection configurations produced by the development of a prograding wedge of terrigenous sediment. Parti...
EDIGER, V; OKYAR, M; ERGIN, M (Elsevier BV, 1993-11-01)
High-resolution shallow seismic reflection (Uniboom) and echosounding profiles obtained on the shelf and upper slope areas of Anamur Bay (Turkey, northeastern Mediterranean) were studied together with previous data on the onshore geology of the area to investigate the origin and related seismic stratigraphy of the submarine Anamur Canyon. It was found that the main axial trend of the submarine Anamur Canyon is aligned with the offshore projection of the N-S orientated, onshore Anamur thrust fault of Late Cr...
Tsunamis in the Sea of Marmara - Historical documents for the past, models for the future
Yalçıner, Ahmet Cevdet; Altinok, Y; Ozbay, I; Imamura, F (Elsevier BV, 2002-10-15)
More than 30 tsunami events have impacted the coasts of the Sea of Marmara in the past two millennium, clustering in Izmit Bay, the shores of istanbul, Gemlik Bay, the shores of the Kapidak and Gelibolu Peninsulas. With respect to the last well-known tsunami, the Izmit tsunami of 17 August, 1999, available field survey run-up data and marine surveys provide an opportunity to evaluate how these events were triggered. The main purpose of this study is to determine the slope failure potential as a possible tsu...
ERGIN, M; OKYAR, M; TIMUR, K (Elsevier BV, 1992-02-29)
High-resolution shallow-seismic reflection (Uniboom) profiles obtained in inner and mid-shelf areas of eastern Mersin Bay (Turkey, northeastern Mediterranean) show that the sedimentary column comprises two major and distinct lithological sequences (C and B) separated by a reflector (R) which is interpreted as the pre-Holocene surface. The upper sedimentary sequence (C) is thought to represent roughly the Holocene and is characterized by parallel/divergent to sigmoidal reflection patterns above (Unit 1) and ...
Citation Formats
G. A. Papadopoulos et al., “Historical and pre-historical tsunamis in the Mediterranean and its connected seas: Geological signatures, generation mechanisms and coastal impacts,” MARINE GEOLOGY, pp. 81–109, 2014, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/48910.