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Sedimentological aspects of recent and historical tsunami events along the coast of Peru
International Lateinamerika-Kolloquium 2009 : abstracts and program, 2009
The coast of Peru is greatly endangered by tsunami events. The subduction of the Nasca Plate below the South American Plate triggers strong submarine earthquakes that are capable of causing tsunami. High-energy wave events are major coast shaping processes. In some regions, e.g. the Caribbean, a distinction between storm/hurricane and tsunami deposits is difficult. Therefore, the absence of heavy storms makes the Peruvian coast a good target for tsunami research. Other meteorological phenomena, like El Niño events that occur in Peru are not associated with strong storms or surges. Deposits of El Niño-caused flooding can easily be distinguished from tsunami events, since their sedimentary structures imply transport from the land to the sea, the deposited material derives from the mountain ranges and no indicators (e.g., foraminifera, shells) of marine inundations are present. In our study we re-surveyed locations of the three most recent regional tsunami events in order to learn about the sedimentary structures and their preservation potential. We visited the areas affected by the Chimbote-Tsunami of 21st February 1996 (5 m run up; Bourgeois et al., 1999; Kulikov et al., 2005), by the Camana-Tsunami of the 23rd June 2001 (9 m run up; Jaffe et al., 2003) and by the Pisco-Paracas-Tsunami of 15th August 2007 (10 m run up; Fritz et al., 2007). Secondly, we surveyed the coast of Peru in order to find traces of historical or paleotsunami events. All sediments were sampled for grain size analysis, foraminifera determination and optically stimulated luminescence dating. For historical events, the inverse tsunami model of Jaffe & Gelfenbaum (2007) was applied to calculate onshore tsunami flow depths. Both recent and historical tsunami deposits are present as (1) (graded) layers of coarse sand, some including shell fragments or pieces of rock, (2) (imbricated) shell layers, (3) heavy mineral accumulations and (4) mud caps or mud balls. Imbricated shells can give information on flow directions and hence can help to distinguish between run up and backwash sediments. Unfortunately, the preservation potential of onshore tsunami deposits is very low. Erosion by wind, rivers or heavy rain falls (e.g., during El Niño events) and bioturbation (e.g., by crabs) can modify or destroy the sediments. For recent events, human activity (e.g., the use of beach / tsunami sand for rebuilding) is a limiting preservation factor. This study shows that muddy tsunami sediments and backwash sediments have the highest preservation potential. This is due to the cohesion of mud that makes the deposits less sensitive for erosion during backwash and due to fast hardening of mud layers in the dry Peruvian climate.
Universitätsverlag Göttingen
páginas 274-276.

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