new study recently suggested some previous assumptions about the largest ever Mediterranean earthquake, specifically that its "seismic legacy" might not be correct and the results could mean drastic changes for this calamity, as well as tsunami modeling in the region at present.

A ScienceAlert report said history tells that during the 365 CE, the Mediterranean region was shaken by a roaring earthquake approximated a magnitude 8.0, or even stronger.

The earthquake and succeeding tsunami claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, devastating Alexandria in Egypt and several cities more.

Up to this present time, the general agreement has been that the Hellenic subduction zone beneath Crete caused what has been believed to be the largest ever Mediterranean earthquake, although the latest evidence suggested recently, a cluster of "normal faults" offshore of southwestern and northwestern Crete may have been the uplift of massive stretches of bare fossil beach along the Crete coastline.

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Science Times - Largest Ever Mediterranean Earthquake: Scientists Say Its 'Seismic Legacy' Might Not Be Correct
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Earthquakes M5.5+ (1900-2016) Mediterranean Circle sizes indicate Magnitude, and colors indicate their depth.

'Tsunamigenic' Upper Plate Normal Fault Earthquakes

In their paper, the researchers wrote that their findings are collectively favoring the interpretation that damaging calamities like tsunamis and earthquakes in the Eastern Mediterranean can coin from normal faults, underscoring the possible hazard from the so-called tsunamigenic upper plate normal fault earthquakes, also described in Nature Geoscience.

By examining fossil shorelines revealed by seismic uplift and utilizing radiocarbon dating approaches, the study investigators were able to work backward to discover with more accuracy how the ground certainly shifted to generate the ruptured landscape.

Essentially, the ground's rise around the beaches, to an approximately nine-meter height, or almost 30 feet in some areas, exposed and killed off large amounts of marine creatures, the skeletons, of which reveal important clues.

Vermetids and corals were collected from a total of eight areas around create, giving the researchers more than 30 new data points when it comes to geological ages.

Computer modeling was then applied to suit the dates and places with probable seismic activity, with historical writings about quakes in the place, also taken into consideration.

'Seemingly' Convincing Data

Findings of the study suggest a series of earthquakes in the first centuries of the millennium, possibly caused the uplift, before the legendary earthquake in 365 CE, which was formerly believed to be the culprit.

The new hypothesis is supported by some other pieces of evidence, which include the seeming abandonment of the olden harbor at Phalasarna around 66 CE. Although the team of researchers admits that the said data is by no means, convincing at this phase.

This means that normal faults in the area might be capable of more damage compared to what was thought previously. The earthquake in 365 CE, which does not seem to have revealed these fossil beach sessions, after all, may have come from normal faults, instead of what's described in Scientific Reports as, Hellenic subduction zone, as a lot of people used to think.

This is not just historical inquisitiveness either. Meaning, the present-day earthquake forecasts, as well as modeling, might need some adjustments.

Need for More Research

The study authors said they want to see more seismic dimensions and recordings taken around the Mediterranean area, specifically away from shorelines, where the majority of the data from this research was taken.

Based on the said results, and the better consistency with a long-standing record of crustal extension in the area, the researchers favor normal faulting origin for the earthquakes that took place in both 365 CE and earlier.

Nevertheless, the researchers wrote in their study, specifying, the need for more research, and especially geophysical imaging, is necessitated to sufficiently understand the tectonics, as well as the seismic danger of the Hellenic subduction region.

The study, Reassessing Eastern Mediterranean Tectonics and Earthquake Hazard From the 365 CE Earthquake, was published in AGU Advances.

Related information is shown on ShantiUniversity's YouTube video below:

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