Active thrusting offshore Mount Lebanon: Source of the tsunamigenic A.D. 551 Beirut-Tripoli earthquake

Elias, A. and Tapponnier, P. and Singh, S. C. and King, G. C. P. and Briais, A. and Daeron, M. and Carton, H. and Sursock, A. and Jacques, E. and Jomaa, R. and Klinger, Y. (2007) Active thrusting offshore Mount Lebanon: Source of the tsunamigenic A.D. 551 Beirut-Tripoli earthquake. Geology, 35 (8). pp. 755-758. DOI​G23631A.1

[img] PDF
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (369kB)
Official URL:


On 9 July A.D. 551, a large earthquake, followed by a tsunami, destroyed most of the coastal cities of Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon). Tripoli is reported to have “drowned,” and Berytus (Beirut) did not recover for nearly 1300 yr afterwards. Geophysical data from the Shalimar survey unveil the source of this event, which may have had a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.5 and was arguably one of the most devastating historical submarine earthquakes in the eastern Mediterranean: rupture of the offshore, hitherto unknown, ∼100–150-km-long active, east-dipping Mount Lebanon thrust. Deep-towed sonar swaths along the base of prominent bathymetric escarpments reveal fresh, west-facing seismic scarps that cut the sediment-smoothed seafloor. The Mount Lebanon thrust trace comes closest (∼8 km) to the coast between Beirut and Enfeh, where, as 13 14C-calibrated ages indicate, a shoreline-fringing vermetid bench suddenly emerged by ∼80 cm in the sixth century A.D. At Tabarja, the regular vertical separation (∼1 m) of higher fossil benches suggests uplift by three more earthquakes of comparable size since the Holocene sea level reached a maximum ca. 7–6 ka, implying a 1500-1750 yr recurrence time. Unabated thrusting on the Mount Lebanon thrust likely drove the growth of Mount Lebanon since the late Miocene.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2007 AREP 2007 P IA54
Divisions: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Journal or Publication Title: Geology
Volume: 35
Page Range: pp. 755-758
Identification Number:​G23631A.1
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2009 13:02
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:06

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

About cookies