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Ancient Greek tsunami bears warning signs

A tsunami saved the Greek village of Potidaea from Persian invaders in winter 479 BC, a German study said Thursday, warning that the area remains prone to earthquakes. 

Aerial view of Potidaea [Credit: Google Earth]
New geological evidence suggests that the region could still face tsunami events like the one that drowned hundreds of Persian invaders as they lay siege to the ancient Greek village many centuries ago, according to Klaus Reicherter of Aachen University in Germany and his colleagues. 

Sediment on the northern Greek peninsula where Potidaea, and its modern counterpart Nea Potidea, is located showed signs of massive marine events, such as large waves, the study said. 

The image shows excavated deposits that provided evidence of the ancient tsunam [Credit: Klaus Reicherter, RWTH Aachen University]
And excavations in the suburbs of the nearby ancient city of Mende uncovered a high-energy level dating back to the fifth century BC that contained far older sea shells likely plucked from the ocean bed and tossed about during a tsunami. 

The event was previously described by Greek historian Herodotus. 

The sun sets over the Greek peninsula of Kassandra, where scientists conducted fieldwork. Mount Olympus looms in the distance [Credit: Klaus Reicherter]
Reicherter said the study’s findings suggested that the Thermaic Gulf where the peninsula is located -- a densely populated area that is also a tourist destination -- should be included in Greece’s tsunami-prone regions. 

He was due to present his research Thursday at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America in San Diego, California.  

Source: Kathimerini [April 20, 2012]

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