Reliability of first-hand accounts on the study of historical tsunamis in northeastern Venezuela (southeastern Caribbean Sea)

Franck Albert Audemard M., Alejandra F. Leal Guzman


The occurrence of tsunami waves on the eastern Caribbean Venezuelan coasts during 5 Venezuelan (local) earthquakes (01-IX-1530, 15-VII-1853, 29-X-1900, 17-I-1929 and 9-VII-1997), have been confirmed through the search and evaluation of written accounts by primary sources (eye witnesses) of tsunami inundation during these events. Among the outcomes of this new assessment are: 1) the run-up heights of several of those tsunamis have been substantially reduced. In fact, maximum run-up heights for the 5 tsunamis are: 5-7 m at Cumaná for the 1530 event, 5 m at Barlovento and 3 m at the Neverí mouth for the 1900 tsunami, 3 m at western Cumaná for the 1853 and 1929 events and about 1 m for the 1997 earthquake. 2) These new estimates on wave heights for local earthquakes restrict the search for tsunamites by trenching and coring to mainly the first 500-m-wide strip from the coastline in low-lying flatlands. The source of these tsunami waves may be complex. Some are surely the result of coastal-submarine sliding (1929 AD, 1997 AD), tectonic slip on active strike-slip (or normal oblique slip) faults (1530 AD, 1900 AD) or combination of tectonic slip and sliding (1853 AD). Appropriate numerical modeling of tsunami wave generation, migration and inundation are urgently in need to understand these tsunami mechanics.


Tsunami hazard; Inundation; Run-up; Strike-slip faults, Sliding; Caribbean

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