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A 1600 year-long sedimentary record of tsunamis and hurricanes in the Lesser Antilles (Scrub Island, Anguilla)

Abstract : The Lesser Antilles are a densely populated region where local populations and industrial facilities are concentrated at the coastlines, and are therefore exposed to many rapid-onset hazards such as hurricanes and tsunamis. However, the historical catalog of these events is too short to allow risk assessment and return period estimations, and it needs to be completed with long-term records of washover deposits in coastal sedimentary environments such as lagoons. In this study, two sediment cores were taken in March 2018 in a small coastal lagoon on Scrub Island (northeastern Caribbean). Sedimentological, geochemical, microfaunal and chronological analyses enabled us to identify 25 sandy layers resulting from high-energy-marine floods. Two of these layers were interpreted as tsunami deposits based on sedimentological (rip-up clast of the underlying cohesive substrate and internal mud laminae), and geochemical evidence. The most recent deposit is associated with the transatlantic tsunami triggered by the 1755 CE Lisbon earthquake. The older one is the thickest sandy layer recorded in the lagoon, with an age range of 1364-1469 cal. CE, as determined using 14 C dating. This event was recorded in sedimentary archives of both the northern and the southern part of the Caribbean, with its large spatial extent, supporting a distant tsunamigenic origin. The 23 remaining sandy layers were interpreted as storm deposits, based on sedimentological and chronological data, with the three most recent layers being correlated with historical hurricanes. This new 1600 year-long record displays similarities with that of the Bahamas, with the periods of intense hurricane activity being in antiphase with those of the northeastern US coast. This regional comparison may provide evidence for a latitudinal forcing of hurricane tracks through time in relation to climate fluctuations.
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Submitted on : Monday, April 19, 2021 - 9:44:01 AM
Last modification on : Monday, April 19, 2021 - 9:45:24 AM

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M Biguenet, Pierre Sabatier, E Chaumillon, C Chagué, F Arnaud, et al.. A 1600 year-long sedimentary record of tsunamis and hurricanes in the Lesser Antilles (Scrub Island, Anguilla). Sedimentary Geology, Elsevier, 2020, 412, ⟨10.1016/j.sedgeo.2020.105806⟩. ⟨hal-03163605⟩

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