TsunamiTsunami

Strong tsunamis of the past

On the Italian coast, in the last thousand years we have documented several dozen tsunamis, only some of which are destructive. The catalogue of the Italian tsunamis (Tinti et al., 2004) shows that the most affected are the coastal areas of eastern Sicily, Calabria, Puglia and the Aeolian archipelago and that tsunamis of  minor intensity have occurred also along the coasts Ligurian, Tyrrhenian and Adriatic.

This map shows the events (earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions) which have given rise to tsunamis of the past. Tsunamis are classified according to their intensity on a scale from 2 (low intensity) to 6 (maximum intensity). To every tsunami has been assigned a value of "reliability" (on a scale from "0 = very unlikely event" to "4 = certain event") indicating the degree of reliability of the event, on the basis of the quality of information used. The points located inland on the map, which may appear "abnormal" are generally strong historical earthquakes in conjunction of which news of effects along the coast were found. Generally, in these cases, the reliability of the associated tsunami is low. Values of reliability 4 refer to some events that took place inland for which the descriptions of the sea effects are highly detailed and come from contemporary literature sources.

The most disastrous tsunami event was that of 28 December 1908: following the earthquake in the Strait of Messina, the coasts of Sicily and Calabria were devastated by destructive waves that caused hundreds of victims. Maximum run up (maximum altitude reached by the water above the sea level) measured on the Calabrian coast was 13 meters. Noteworthy are also the tsunamis of 1627 in Puglia, in southern Calabria in 1783 and 1694 in eastern Sicily. The first tidal wave of this century occurred in Stromboli, Aeolian Islands, on December 30, 2002 and caused serious damage to bathing facilities and houses around the island.


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