Abstract

A sedimentary deposit on the continental shelf off Caesarea Maritima, Israel, is identified, dated, and attributed to tsunami waves produced during the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1630–1550 B.C.E.) eruption of Santorini, Greece. The sheet-like deposit was found as a layer as much as 40 cm thick in four cores collected from 10 to 20 m water depths. Particle-size distribution, planar bedding, shell taphoecoensis, dating (radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence, and pottery), and comparison of the horizon to more recent tsunamigenic layers distinguish it from normal storm and typical marine conditions across a wide (>1 km2) lateral area. The presence of this deposit is evidence that tsunami waves from the Santorini eruption radiated throughout the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, affecting the coastal people living there. Dates for the tsunami deposit bracket both the so-called “high” and “low” chronology for the Santorini eruption. In addition to resolving the question of the extent of tsunami impact from the Santorini eruption, the research presented also provides a new means of discovering, identifying, and studying continuous records of paleotsunami deposits in the upper shelf coastal environment. The latter is key to understanding past events, better interpreting sedimentological records, and creating stronger models for understanding tsunami propagation, coastal management, and hazard preparation worldwide.

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