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Messina, Italy, Tsunami (1908)

  • By: Alexander David
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

The Strait of Messina has the highest seismic potential of any part of Italy. Thus, southern Calabria and eastern Sicily have suffered at least eight tremors of a magnitude greater than 6.0 in historical times. At 5.21 A.M. on December 28, 1908, the area experienced a magnitude-7.1 earthquake, which lasted 37 seconds and caused damage up to level XI (very disastrous), and level XII (catastrophic) on the then-newly created Mercalli intensity scale. The earthquake involved normal faulting (dilation and subsidence of the Earth's crust). This may have been responsible for generating a tsunami with waves 19–39 feet high on the Sicilian and Calabrian coasts, although recent research suggests that the phenomenon could have been caused by abrupt underwater slumping set off by the tremors. ...

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