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Imprints of the AD 1755 Tsunami in Algarve (South Portugal) Lowlands and Post-impact Recovery

  • P. J. M. CostaEmail author
  • M. A. Oliveira
  • R. González-Villanueva
  • C. Andrade
  • M. C. Freitas
Chapter
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 14)

Abstract

The AD 1755 tsunami was the most devastating tsunami that affected Atlantic Europe in historical times. In this work we summarize its sedimentological signatures in lowlands (Martinhal, Barranco, Furnas, Boca do Rio, Salgados-Alcantarilha) of the Algarve coast that contrast in geologic and geomorphological settings and sediment abundance. We found remarkable similarities between tsunami deposits and the materials available for transport at the coast prior to the tsunami. A number of 2–4 m high and 30–70 m wide scarps (i.e. steep slopes in dunes resulting from erosion) are the only erosive geomorphic signature preserved in the study areas (Boca do Rio and Salgados-Alcantarilha). Recovery of the coastal system to pre-event conditions, inferred from the documentary records, is evaluated and analyzed in terms of sediment availability and supply, climate, hydrodynamic regime and geomorphic setting. Sediment-starved pocket beaches bypassed landward most of the sediment previously accumulated in the coastal system, failing to recover the pre-event morphology. Moreover, and solely in Martinhal, the abrupt morphological changes translated in increased and lasting permeability of the barrier and adjacent wetland to storms. The Alcantarilha-Salgados beach-dune system, in moderate sand supply, was extensively scarped but not fully overtopped. Here, recovery was partly achieved by destabilization of the remnant dune, formation and (limited) advance of parabolic dunes following the 1755 event. A schematic conceptual model is presented summarizing: the pre-event conditions; the depositional and geomorphological features directly related with the tsunami impact; and the post-event geomorphological adaptation. In the studied cases post-event recovery seems to be reduced mainly due to a conjugation of pre-event geomorphological setting and low sediment input.

The need to conduct further studies in the impacts of palaeotsunamis is evidenced here, especially because older events allow a large time window to observe post-tsunami adaptation.

Keywords

Geomorphology Tsunami deposit Sand barrier Erosional features Recovery 

Notes

Acknowledgements

MA Oliveira and PJM Costa benefited from FCT (Portuguese Science Foundation) PhD and Post-Doc Scholarships. R. González-Villanueva benefited from an IDL Post-Doc Fellowship and Xunta de Galicia (PlanI2C-ED481B 2014/132-0) Post-Doc Fellowship.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. J. M. Costa
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. A. Oliveira
    • 1
  • R. González-Villanueva
    • 2
  • C. Andrade
    • 1
  • M. C. Freitas
    • 1
  1. 1.IDL and Departamento de GeologiaFaculdade de Ciências da Universidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Dpto. Xeociencias Mariñas e O.T. (XM-1)Facultade de Ciencias do Mar Universidade de VigoVigoSpain

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