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TitleA mythical rock avalanche and tsunami in Greece: implications for Atlantic Canada
AuthorPiper, D J WORCID logo; Pe-Piper, G; de Boer, J; Anastasakis, G
SourceThe Atlantic Geoscience Society (AGS), 42nd Colloquium and Annual Meeting, program with abstracts; by Atlantic Geoscience Society; La Société Géoscientifique de l'Atlantique; 2016 p. 40
LinksOnline - En ligne (whole volume, PDF, 891 KB)
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20160156
PublisherAtlantic Geoscience Society
MeetingThe Atlantic Geoscience Society (AGS) / La Société Géoscientifique de l'Atlantique - 42nd Colloquium and Annual Meeting; Truro, NS; CA; February 5-6, 2016
Mediaon-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceEastern offshore region; Newfoundland and Labrador; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Canada; Quebec; Nunavut; Alberta; Northern offshore region; British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut; Canada
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
AreaAtlantic Canada; Saguenay Fiord; St Lawrence Estuary; Frank; Baffin Island; Island of Kos; Kefalos Bay; Zini Mountain; Astypalaia; Greece
Lat/Long WENS-141.0000 -50.0000 90.0000 41.7500
Subjectsmarine geology; structural geology; geophysics; earthquakes; landslides; tsunami; microfossils; coastal environment; turbidites; volcanic ash; geophysical surveys; acoustic surveys, marine; bathymetry; depositional environment; geological history; history; depositional history; tectonic history; Foraminifera; Frank Slide; Phanerozoic; Cenozoic; Quaternary
ProgramOffshore Geoscience
Released2016 01 01
AbstractDozens of surviving ceramics from ca. 500 BCE show scenes of the mythical battle between Poseidon, god of the sea, and the giant Polybotes, which occurred on the Greek island of Kos. Poseidon is shown killing his opponent with his trident, while carrying a huge rock that he had ripped off the island of Kos to bury Polybotes. Legend and ancient literary sources suggest that the event took place in southeastern Kos, near the then capital city of Astypalaia, which is located NW of Zini mountain overlooking Kefalos Bay. The images on the ceramics represent a strong earthquake causing a voluminous coastal rock fall or rock avalanche. This disaster was a major event that reverberated throughout the ancient Greek world, triggering the imagination of its artists for several generations. Geological studies show a large, relatively recent, rock avalanche on the steep coast of Kefalos Bay on the SE side of Zini Mountain, with the scar extending over an area of ~0.3 km2. Tsunami sand deposits with reworked marsh foraminifera are found 9 m above sea level (asl) on NE Zini, less than 1 km from the archeological site of the old city of Astypalaia. Three km distant is a wave-washed coastal platform with stranded boulders up to 6 m asl. Marine investigations offshore in Kefalos Bay show seafloor landslides and one or two turbidites younger than the ca. 1610 BCE Minoan ash horizon, but none can be unequivocally correlated with the rock avalanche event.
Similar rock avalanches on steep coastal cliffs in deep but restricted waters are a significant hazard on the coastlines of eastern Canada, especially in fiords. For example, sediment cores from Saguenay fiord provide a record of several Holocene earthquake-triggered rockfalls or rock avalanches and turbidity currents. A rock avalanche imaged by multibeam bathymetry in the St Lawrence Estuary resembles the deposits of the famous 1903 Frank slide in Alberta. There is a risk of similar events in coastal fiords of Newfoundland, Labrador and Baffin Island. We can only speculate on how such an event might influence Canadian art and culture.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This Abstract for an oral presentation describes a case study of a catastrophic rock avalanche and tsunami 2500 years ago and reviews the occurrence of this hazard in eastern Canada.

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