Eastern Ionian Sea Tsunami



Tsunami hazard in the eastern Mediterranean belongs to the highest worldwide. This is mostly due to the high seismic activity along the Hellenic Arc where the African Plate is being subducted under the Eurasian Plate inducing numerous strong tsunamigenic earthquakes. Also, the Arabian Plate, moving northward by high rates, is a serious source of seismically related hazards. Further potential tsunami triggers in the Mediterranean are submarine slides, meteorite impacts, and explosional volcanic activity, for instance around Sicily or in the Aegean Sea. The eastern Mediterranean is characterized by comparatively short shore-to-shore distances, a highly variable underwater topography and thousands of kilometers of coastline with numerous indentations. In terms of tsunami hazard, this constellation implicates short time intervals for advance warning of local populations, strong refraction effects difficult to predict and a variety of secondary, mostly earthquake-related hazards such as rockfall, liquefaction and subaerial and underwater landslides.


Fig. 1: Topographic overview of the study areas of the Eastern Ionian Sea Tsunami Research Project.


Palaeotsunami research in the eastern Mediterranean has been strongly intensified during the past decades, in order to improve our understanding of the dimension and the dynamic of tsunami landfalls and to gain reliable background information for future risk assessment. Besides archival studies based on ancient accounts and historical data related to extreme wave events in the Mediterranean, an increasing number of geo-scientific field studies have been carried out to detect palaeotsunami deposits.


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