Articles | Volume 12, issue 8
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2569–2580, 2012

Special issue: Sea hazards

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2569–2580, 2012

Research article 14 Aug 2012

Research article | 14 Aug 2012

Geological evidence for paleotsunamis along eastern Sicily (Italy): an overview

P. M. De Martini1, M. S. Barbano2, D. Pantosti1, A. Smedile1, C. Pirrotta2, P. Del Carlo3, and S. Pinzi1 P. M. De Martini et al.
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Roma 1, Italy
  • 2Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Università di Catania, Italy
  • 3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Pisa, Italy

Abstract. We present geological evidence for paleotsunamis along the ~230 km-long coast of eastern Sicily (Italy); combining this information with historical data, we reconstruct a unique history of tsunami inundations. We integrate data on 38 paleotsunami deposits (from fine sand layers to boulders) collected at 11 sites (one offshore). The geological data record traces of large tsunamis which have occurred during the past 4 millennia. Chronological constrains include 14C, 210Pb and 137Cs, OSL and tephrochronology. When compatible, the age of the paleotsunami deposits is associated to historical events, but it is also used to highlight unknown tsunamis. Average tsunami recurrence interval (between 320 and 840 yr) and minimum inland tsunami ingressions (often greater than the historical ones) were estimated at several sites. On the basis of this work, the tsunami catalogue is implemented by two unknown tsunamis which occurred during the first millennium BC and by one unknown regional tsunami, which occurred in 650–770 AD. By including this latter event in the eastern Sicily catalogue, we estimate an average recurrence interval for strong tsunamis of ca. 385 yr.

Comparison and merging of historical and geological data can definitely contribute to a better understanding of regional and local tsunami potential and provides robust parameters to be used in tsunami hazard estimates.

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