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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 3
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 945–963, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: New developments in tsunami science: from hazard to risk

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 945–963, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 25 Mar 2011

Research article | 25 Mar 2011

Tsunami hazard in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea: a new tsunami catalogue

G. A. Papadopoulos1, G. Diakogianni1, A. Fokaefs1, and B. Ranguelov2 G. A. Papadopoulos et al.
  • 1Institute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens, 11810 Athens, Greece
  • 2Geophysical Institute, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria

Abstract. Data on tsunamis occurring in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea from antiquity up to the present were updated, critically evaluated and compiled in the standard format developed since the 90's for the New European Tsunami Catalogue. Twenty nine events were examined but three of them, supposedly occurring in 557 AD, 815 AD and 1341 or 1343, were very likely falsely reported. Most of the remaining 26 events were generated in Crimea, offshore Bulgaria as well as offshore North Anatolia. For each of the 26 events examined, 22 events were classified as reliable ones receiving a score of 3 or 4 on a 4-grade reliability scale. Most of them were caused by earthquakes, such as the key event 544/545 of offshore Varna, but a few others were attributed either to aseismic earth slumps or to unknown causes. The tsunami intensity was estimated using the traditional 6-grade scale and the new 12-grade scale introduced by Papadopoulos and Imamura (2001). From 544/545 up to now, only two reliable events of high intensity K ≥ 7 have been reported, which very roughly indicates that the mean repeat time is ∼ 750 years. Five reliable tsunamis of moderate intensity 4 ≤ K < 7 have been observed from 1650 up to the present, which implies a recurrence of 72 years on the average. Although these calculations were based on a very small statistical sample of tsunami events, the repeat times found are consistent with the theoretical expectations from size-frequency relations. However, in the Black Sea there is no evidence of tsunamis of very high intensity (K ∼ 10) such as the AD 365, 1303 and 1956 ones associated with large earthquakes occurring along the Hellenic arc and trench, Greece, or the 1908 one in Messina strait, Italy. This observation, along with the relatively low tsunami frequency, indicates that the tsunami hazard in the Black Sea is low to moderate but not negligible. The tsunami hazard in the Azov Sea is very low because of the very low seismicity but also because of the shallow water prevailing there. In fact, only three possible tsunami events have been reported in the Azov Sea.

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