Tech UPTechnologyThis was the first tsunami registered in the Iberian...

This was the first tsunami registered in the Iberian Peninsula

tsunami-atlanticoScientists from the Environmental Geomorphology and Water Resources research group at the University of Huelva have proven the existence of thefirst recorded historical tsunami off the Atlantic coast, which took place between 218 BC and 210 BC. The finding, recently published in the magazineQuaternary International, will allow us to better understand these natural disasters of marine origin and understand the history of civilizations. “Now we can try to decipherif the Romans occupied the peninsular southwestfrom his exclusive triumph in the Punic Wars orby the weakening of the civilization settled and disappeared due to catastrophic phenomena such as this tsunami“, ventures the principal investigator Joaquín Rodríguez Vidal.”

Scientists have come to this conclusion fromstudy of the sediments of the Doñana National Park, one of the places where morphological and sedimentary evidences were observed not in accordance with the normal evolution of a coast and which has been the object of the investigation of three doctoral theses. The working method first focused on the reconstruction of the Huelva coastal landscape from aerial photographs and other images captured by the Earth observation satellites Landsat and Spot. In this way, the scientists were able to verify how the coastal barriers are positioned, their advances and retreats.

The next step was to contrast the data obtained in the field. To do this, Rodríguez Vidal and his team extracted sediments – sands and shells, mainly – from the different coastal barriers of Doñana – marshes and lagoons – and studied the composition of the sands, peat and shells. With all this information the scientists noticed in the Huelva sediments “characteristics similar to those of tsunamis”, clarifies Rodríguez, aftercomparison with sediments currently studied in the wake of recorded tsunamis such as the one in Indonesia(2004). Geologists have also relied on studies of the Lisbon tsunami in 1755, a disaster that marked the birth of modern seismology as one of the first to be studied.

Now they will continue to study the phenomenon to “try todetermine the future recurrence (repetition) capacity of tsunamis on the Atlantic coast of the Gulf of Cádiz, as this is one of the areas most likely to suffer underwater earthquakes and that could have effects on the Huelva, Portuguese and Moroccan coasts “, add the authors of the study.

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