ABSTRACT

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was long thought to be an unprecedented event until geological investigations discovered episodic tsunami sand depositions of the past. Two preceding major tsunami inundations sometime around the tenth and fourteenth centuries have been inferred from geological investigations. A question raised then was how the two geologically inferred pre‐2004 tsunamis might match with the historical records available from the Indian Ocean region. Even after a decade since the 2004 tsunami, a critical evaluation of the historical information on ancient sea disturbances has not been attempted. Given this background, here we present historical accounts of sea disturbances that may have a bearing on the timings of the two major previous tsunamis. An important piece of information that emerges from the assessment of the historical accounts is about the possible year of the penultimate predecessor of the 2004 tsunami. The geologically inferred fourteenth‐century Indian Ocean tsunami may have occurred in the year 1343 C.E., as witnessed by the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, on the southwestern coast of India. This article presents source materials and interpretations on the timings of the tsunamis that originated from the Andaman–Sumatra subduction front.

You do not currently have access to this article.