TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 64 (No. 10), pp. 859-874, 2012

The Gyra washover fan in the Lefkada Lagoon, NW Greece—possible evidence of the 365 AD Crete earthquake and tsunami

Simon Matthias May1, Andreas Vött2, Helmut Brückner1, and Alessandra Smedile3

1Institute for Geography, Universität zu Köln, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, D-50923 Köln (Cologne), Germany
2Institute for Geography, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 21, D-55099 Mainz, Germany
3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Via di Vigna Murata 605, 00143 Rome, Italy

(Received October 31, 2010; Revised November 11, 2011; Accepted March 31, 2012; Online published October 24, 2012)

Abstract: Coastal geomorphological and geological archives store valuable information about the geodynamic evolution of coastal areas and the contributing geomorphodynamic processes. The coastal geomorphology of the Lefkada-Preveza coastal zone, NW Greece, holds evidence for the influence of both gradual, low-energy and episodic, high-energy coastal processes. Situated close to the Hellenic Arc and the Cefalonia transform fault, the area belongs to one of the seismically most active regions in the Mediterranean. Thus, tsunami events are assumed to have contributed to the coastal evolution in the study area according to tsunami catalogues and field evidence from previous investigations. The northern part of the Lefkada Lagoon, separated from the Ionian Sea by an extensive barrier beach system, is characterized by a number of fan-like washover structures, formed by different washover generations. In this paper, we present detailed geomorphological, sedimentological, geochemical and foraminiferal investigations on the most prominent fan structure, the Gyra fan, based on terrestrial and lagoonal sediment cores. The Gyra fan consists of a coarse-grained sequence of fully marine origin on top of lagoonal mud and a palaeosol, respectively. The sequence shows numerous characteristics of extreme wave deposits. Due to the dimension and morphology of the fan, the existence of up to four consistent and correlative stratigraphic subunits, their landward thinning and their comparable sedimentary characteristics, we argue that a tsunami event induced the formation of the Gyra fan, comprising at least four major inundation impulses. According to radiocarbon dates, this geomorphological structure was most likely formed by teletsunami effects triggered by the 365 AD earthquake off western Crete.
Key words: Eastern Mediterranean, Lefkada Lagoon, washover fan, tsunami deposits, foraminifera, 365 AD tsunami.

Corresponding author E-mail: mays@uni-koeln.de

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