Articles | Volume 12, issue 4
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 1185–1200, 2012

Special issue: Marine and lake paleoseismology

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 1185–1200, 2012

Research article 26 Apr 2012

Research article | 26 Apr 2012

Geological record of tsunami inundations in Pantano Morghella (south-eastern Sicily) both from near and far-field sources

F. Gerardi1, A. Smedile2, C. Pirrotta1, M. S. Barbano1, P. M. De Martini2, S. Pinzi2, A. M. Gueli3, G. M. Ristuccia1,3, G. Stella3, and S. O. Troja3 F. Gerardi et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Università di Catania, Italy
  • 2Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Roma, Italy
  • 3PH3DRA laboratory, Dipartimento di Fisica ed Astronomia, Università di Catania, Italy

Abstract. Analysis of tsunami deposits from the Pantano Morghella area provided geological evidence for two inundations occurred along the south-eastern Ionian coast of Sicily. Pantano Morghella is a large pond characterised by a fine-grained sedimentation indicating a low-energy depositional environment. Two anomalous yellow sandy layers found at different depths indicate the occurrence of high-energy marine inundations. We studied sedimentological and paleontological features of the anomalous deposits as well as their spatial distribution observing the following properties: different facies with respect to the local stratigraphic sequence; erosive bases, rip-up clasts and broken elements testifying violent deposition mechanisms; macro and micro fauna of marine environment; relatively constant thickness throughout most of the depositional zone with thinning at the distal end; large sand sheets that extend inland. These observations, jointly with their infrequency in the sedimentary record and the age indicating a fast deposition, provided strong evidence for tsunami inundations. Correlations between anomalous layers and historical tsunamis are supported by radiocarbon and OSL dating results. The younger deposit is likely due to the 1908 near-source tsunami, whereas the flooding of the oldest event is most likely associated with a far and large source, the Crete 365 AD earthquake.