pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 157, Issue 6, pp 1227–1256

Tsunami Generated by the Late Bronze Age Eruption of Thera (Santorini), Greece


  • F. W. McCoy
    • University of Hawaii, Windward Community College, Kaneohe, HI 96744, U.S.A. E-mail: fmccoy@hawaii.edu
  • G. Heiken
    • Los Alamos National Laboratory, Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Los Alamos, NM 87545, U.S.A.

DOI: 10.1007/s000240050024

Cite this article as:
McCoy, F. & Heiken, G. Pure appl. geophys. (2000) 157: 1227. doi:10.1007/s000240050024


—Tsunami were generated during the Late Bronze Age (LBA) eruption of the island of Thera, in the southern Aegean Sea, by both caldera collapse, and by the entry of pyroclastic surges/flows and lahars/debris flows into the sea. Tsunami generated by caldera collapse propagated to the west producing deep-sea sedimentary deposits in the eastern Mediterranean Sea known as homogenites; open-ocean wave heights of about 1.9–17 m are estimated. Tsunami generated by the entry of pyroclastic flows/surges and lahars/debris flows into the sea propagated in all directions around the island; wave heights along coastal areas were about 7–12 m as estimated from newly identified tsunami deposits on eastern Thera as well as from pumice deposits found at archaeological sites on northern and eastern Crete.

Key Words: Tsunami, volcanic eruptions, tephra, pyroclastic surges, pyroclastic flows, debris flows, lahar, calderas, tsunami deposits, pumice, ash, Late Bronze Age.
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© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 2000