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  • Writer's pictureLætitia

Summer 1956, tsunami in Amorgos

On 9 July 1956, an earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck Amorgos. It was followed by a tsunami with waves up to 25 metres high that reached the Cretan coast. The islands of Anafi, Naxos, Patmos, Paros and Santorini were badly damaged. This earthquake, the most energetic of the 20th century in the region, caused the death of 53 people, destroyed more than 500 houses and damaged nearly 3000.

In general, earthquakes of significant magnitude tend to occur along plate boundaries. These boundaries have the longest faults and the power of an earthquake is directly correlated to the length of the fault that breaks. However, all the faults surrounding the island of Amorgos are normal faults and these rarely produce earthquakes of this size. The most likely hypothesis is that the earthquake spread over several faults.

The AMORGOS project, led by Frédérique Leclerc, a teacher-researcher at the Université de la Côte d'Azur's Géoazur laboratory, and Javier Escartín, a CNRS researcher at the geology laboratory of the ENS in Paris, is tracking the earthquake. Through two oceanographic campaigns, planned for 2022 and 2023, this project will attempt to understand the origin of the earthquake.

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