Geological evidence of tsunamis and earthquakes at the Eastern Hellenic Arc: correlation with historical seismicity in the eastern Mediterranean Sea

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Gerassimos Papadopoulos *
Koji Minoura
Fumihiko Imamura
Ugur Kuran
Ahmet Yalçiner
Anna Fokaefs
Tomoyuki Takahashi
(*) Corresponding Author:
Gerassimos Papadopoulos | papadop@gein.noa.gr

Abstract

Sedimentary stratigraphy determined by trenching in Dalaman, south-western Turkey, revealed three sand layers at a distance of approximately 240 m from the shoreline and at elevations of +0.30, +0.55 and +0.90 cm. Storm surge action does not explain the features of these deposits that show instead typical characteristics of tsunami deposition. The sand layers correlate with historical tsunamis generated by large earthquakes which ruptured the eastern Hellenic Arc and Trench in 1303, 1481 and 1741. Accelerator mass spectrometry 14C dating of a wood sample from layer II indicated deposition in AD 1473±46, which fits the 1481 event. From an estimated average alluvium deposition rate of approximately 0.13 cm/year, layers I and III were dated at 1322 and 1724, which may represent the large 1303 and 1741 tsunamis. The geological record of the 1303 key event is very poor; therefore, sand layer I perhaps represents an important geological signature of the 1303 tsunami. However, the strong tsunami reported to have been generated by the 1609 earthquake is missing from Dalaman stratigraphy: this underlines the sensitivity of tsunami geological signatures to various local factors. The 1303 earthquake ruptured the trench between the islands of Crete and Rhodes. For the earthquakes of 1481, 1609 and 1741 we suggested that they were very likely generated in the Rhodes Abyssal Plain where sea depths of up to approximately 4200 m, together with the thrust component of seismotectonics, favor tsunami generation. Sand dykes directed upwards from layer I to layer II indicated that the 1481 earthquake triggered liquefaction of sand layer I. The results substantially widen our knowledge about the historical earthquake and tsunami activity in the eastern Mediterranean basin.

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