Towards a paleotsunami chronology in the southern Aegean and Levantine seas, Eastern Mediterranean (EASTMED-PALEOTSUNAMI)
Start Date and End Date
23 June 2018
Middle East Technical University
Horizon 2020 Marie Curie
Project Web Page
In 2004 and 2011, the World witnessed the devastating consequences of Sumatra (Indonesia) and Tohoku (Japan) tsunamis. We realized once again how seriously tsunamis can threaten our lives and infrastructures, and how vital tsunami hazard assessment studies are to reveal especially the recurrence of tsunamis by means of paleotsunami investigations. In the Aegean and the Levantine seas (Eastern Mediterranean), although the historical records report 17 damaging tsunamis during the last 2500 years, the geological records of the paleotsunamis revealed so far in the region are far from providing information useful for reliable tsunami hazard assessments. EASTMED-PALEOTSUNAMI Project aims to take a significant step forward towards constructing paleotsunami chronologies in the eastern Mediterranean by investigating the sedimentary sequences of six lagoonal sites located along the south-western and southern coasts of Turkey. In this way, as it has successfully been done for probabilistic seismic hazard assessment analyses, valuable information for tsunami hazard assessment analyses will be gathered, and the level of tsunami risk for the countries in the eastern Mediterranean will be better understood.
Tackling ‘grand’ or societal challenges
In contrast to many other natural disasters, tsunamis can cause significant damages at highly distant locations. For example, the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, which was triggered off-shore Japan, caused damage at the harbours in Crescent City (California) that is 7500 km away from the triggering location of the tsunami. Another tsunami-induced hazard is the contamination of groundwater and agricultural soils due to sea water inundation, which can significantly reduce crop production during post-tsunami periods. The experiences from the 2004 Sumatra tsunami reveals that soils tend to recover to pre-tsunami levels within 6 months to 1 year; however, groundwater models imply that contamination can persist for 10-15 years. Tsunamis can also severely affect coastal ecosystems, where we obtain the significant proportion of our total sea food. High-energy waves are generally able to substantially alter the nursery areas for fish and benthic organisms, as well as the nutrient balance in the water. These impacts can extend through the entire food chain in coastal ecosystems for decades. In summary, besides casualties, tsunamis can cause physical damages on our cities and infrastructures, as well as they can unfavorably influence our food production. At this point of view, determination of the recurrence intervals of past damaging tsunamis in the eastern Mediterranean is important, because the region contains two huge agricultural areas like Nile Delta and Çukurova, and Suez Canal that is extremely important for international maritime transportation.