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Talk | Tsunami and the Late Bronze Age Eruption of Thera (Santorini)

October 23, 2017

Tsunami and the Late Bronze Age Eruption of Thera (Santorini)

Floyd McCoy (University of Hawaii), 2017-2018 AIA Joukowsky Lecturer

Friday, October 27

7:30pm | CMU 120


The largest volcanic eruption of the past 10,000 years occurred in the Late Bronze Age in the southern Aegean Sea, on an island known in antiquity as Thera (now Santorini). One of the results was the generation of tsunami – and not one set of such waves, but many. The eruption destroyed the Cycladic culture centered on Thera, the residues of which remain buried beneath a thick blanket of volcanic deposits. Damage to Aegean and Mediterranean ports affected extensive maritime trade networks, with far-reaching consequences. Computer modeling of wave amplitudes suggest waves up to 28 meters along the north coast of Crete, with smaller magnitudes elsewhere in the southern Aegean, and evidence for tsunami impact has been found as far away as Israel. In this lecture, Professor McCoy will discuss the mechanisms for tsunami generation during the eruption, and the effects of one of the most stunning natural disasters in human antiquity.


Floyd McCoy is the Professor of Geology and Oceanography with the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of Hawaii, Windward College. He holds his degrees from Harvard University (Ph.D.) and the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. His current research interests include the Late Bronze Age eruption of Thera in Greece), the paleoclimate of the Eastern Mediterranean, sedimentology of tsunami deposits (Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Hawaii), surveys of the Aegean and Mediterranean sea floor, production of hyaloclastites at Hawaii, and Hawaiian geoarchaeological and geophysical surveys. His work on the eruption of Thera has been featured in a number of television programs, including on the BBC, NBC, the Learning Channel, National Geographic, and Discovery.


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