One of the consequences of the enormous volcanic eruption of Thera (Santorini) during the Late Bronze Age (LBA) was the generation of tsunami – not one set of such waves but many sets of tsunami - produced during the largest known eruption during the past 10,000 years. This eruption destroyed a Cycladic culture centered on Thera, whose residues remain buried beneath a thick blanket of volcanic deposits. The regional consequences to the extensive maritime trade network of this ancient culture, especially damage to Aegean and Mediterranean ports by tsunami, likely had huge impact on the demise of this culture. Computer modelling of nearshore wave amplitudes suggest waves up to 28 m along the north coast of Crete, with smaller magnitudes along insular coastlines elsewhere in the southern Aegean region. Evidence for tsunami impact were found as far away as Israel. Mechanisms for tsunami generation during the eruption were via the entry of pyroclastic flows and surges into the ocean, in addition to collapse of the central caldera and its peripheral segments. Tsunami… one of the major consequences of perhaps the most stunning natural disaster in human antiquity.
Professor McCoy is an AIA Joukowsky Lecturer.