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In the Mediterranean, Killer Tsunamis From an Ancient Eruption

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Apollo
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« on: November 05, 2009, 07:31:02 am »

The five tsunami researchers came from Haifa University, in Israel; Hunter College, in New York City; McMaster University, in Canada; and the University of Hawaii.

The team did its excavations off Caesarea, Israel, a coastal town dating from Roman and Byzantine days. The coastal region was only sparsely settled at the time of the Thera eruption, with no identifiable city.

The team sank a half-dozen tubes into the offshore seabed and pulled up sediment cores for analysis. It looked for standard signs of tsunami upheaval, including pumice (the volcanic rock that solidifies from frothy lava), distinctive patterns of microfossils, cultural materials from human dwellings and well-rounded beach pebbles that seldom appear in deeper waters.

Writing in Geology, a journal published by the Geological Society of America, the team reported finding evidence of three tsunamis — two historically documented ones dating to A.D. 115 and 551, and one from the time of the Thera eruption.

The Thera tsunamis, the team wrote, left a signature layer in the seabed of well-rounded pebbles, distinctive patterns of mollusks and characteristic inclusions in rocky fragments all oriented in the same direction.

The disturbed layer, up to 16 inches wide, came from a few feet below the seabed in waters up to 65 feet deep.

“These findings,” the team wrote, “constitute the most comprehensive evidence to date that the tsunami event precipitated by the eruption of Santorini reached the maximum extent of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The team added that, if the giant waves were big enough to reach Israel, “then presumably other Late Bronze Age coastal sites across the Eastern Mediterranean littoral will likely have been affected as well.”
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