Integration of historical, archaeoseismic and paleoseismological data for the reconstruction of the early seismic history in Messina Strait (south Italy): the 1st and 4th centuries AD earthquakes

Maria Serafina Barbano, Viviana Castelli, Daniela Pantosti, Claudia Pirrotta


Historical accounts, archaeoseismic and paleoseismological evidence allowed us to reappraise two earthquakes affecting northeastern Sicily and southern Calabria in the 1st (probably between 14 and 37) and 4th (likely between 361 and 363) centuries AD, to obtain a better reconstruction of their effects and to reconsider their sources.The 1st century event damaged the area from Oppido (Calabria) to Tindari (Sicily), roughly that of the February 6, 1783 Calabria earthquake. The similitude of these earthquakes is further stressed by the fact that they generated tsunamis, as recorded by historical data and by the tsunami deposits found at Capo Peloro, the oldest dated 0-125 AD, the youngest linked to the 1783 event. These earthquakes could be related to the same Calabria seismic source: the Scilla fault. Northeastern Sicily and southern Calabria were also damaged by one or more earthquakes in the 4th century AD and several towns were rebuilt/restored at that time. The hit area roughly coincides with that of the Messina 1908 earthquake suggesting similar seismic sources for the events. However, because close in time, historical descriptions of the 4th century Sicilian earthquake were mixed with those of the 365 Crete earthquake that generated a basin-wide tsunami most likely reaching also the Sicilian coasts. Reevaluating location, size, damage area and tsunamigenic potential of these two earthquakes of the 1st and 4th centuries AD is relevant for reassessing the seismogenic and tsunamigenic potential of the faults around the Messina Strait and the seismic hazard of the affected areas.


Earthquakes; Historical seismology; Archaeoseismology; Tsunami deposits; Sicily; Calabria

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X