Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists


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Huge ships were thrown inland, even two miles away from their original location. His focus is only the actual disaster, not its aftermath. A similar approach to the events is shared by the other authors dealing with the same subject. Most of them are Christian writers, so their accounts are also biased by moralistic approaches. In Crete the public bath built by the Caesar Julius in the metropolis of Gortyn collapsed.

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He provided large sums for the city and countryside for building purpose. This attests that the earthquake and the tsunami were not a local phenomenon limited to Egypt, but a much wider disaster. In fact, it has long been known by the scholars that the earthquake of hit vast areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Yet, over the years, far more accurate analyses have proved such an interpretation to be incorrect. The disaster can be seen as a compilation of events of different times and locations where the EBTP may have been one part of those phenomena.

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Archaeological evidence. After the overview of the previous part of this work, which aimed to define the nature of the event, we still have to assess the impact of it on the Roman Empire and the policies displayed by the Empire in order to cope with the disaster. In this regard, very useful information is provided by the archaeological excavations carried on in various sites of the Mediterranean, over the last few decades. The sites on which we will focus are Sabratha in Libya and Alexandria in Egypt. With regard to the first site we know it was severely hit by the earthquake.

Ammianus reports raids, made by a dangerous tribe of camel-riding barbarians called Austurians, occurring around AD in the area. Nevertheless, further analyses carried on recently tended to discard such a hypothesis: the impact of the barbarian tribes could not have been so strong to cause the disruption recorded in the city, such as the destruction of buildings and roads.

The analysis of some inscriptions found in the newly reconstructed town allows us to have a rather precise idea of the timing of the reconstruction. Yet, the reconstruction works did not finish in those years but carried on for some time. To a man of complete integrity, moderation, justice, foresight, good faith, generosity, courage and beneficence, Flavius Vivus Benedictus, excellent man i.

The city-council and people, voting unanimously, set up the statue to an outstanding patron with enthusiastic gratitude.

Summing up, the evidence from Sabratha shows a precise pattern of reconstruction. First of all, the imperial authority aimed to restore the curia,. This phase was completed within ten or twelve years. Then, slightly later, in thirteen years, came the restoration of the baths. Again a public building played a central role in the everyday life of the Roman towns, also playing a crucial role in securing the minimum of hygiene and the harmony of the community.

Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis

The last inscription attests finally that within a time frame of 23 years but possibly fewer the full process of reconstruction of the town was completed. The dataset of inscriptions from Sabratha is the most complete among those available. Still, traces of disruption are available for this period all over North Africa If we compare the dates provided by the dataset of Sabratha with the ones from the other cities of northern Africa, we find a very similar situation. As various works have shown, the building and restoration activities in the cities of Africa Proconsularis, Byzacena, Tripolitania, and Mauretania increase notably after AD, towards the years 59 , a timeframe certainly coherent with the reconstruction period in Sabratha.

This allows us to put forward the possibility that, in dealing with such a disaster, the Roman Empire displayed some sort of unified recovery policy, that the central imperial power developed a plan to help all the regions after the earthquake and that this plan was carried on according to a precise schedule, which was homogeneously applied to all the regions struck by the events.

If such a scheme could be further proved, it would provide interesting evidence of the existence of a regular plan to cope with natural disasters. Also, the existence of such a plan would shed some light on questions regarding the existence of a wider unified policy or proactive plans in the Ancient World.

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A second aspect that is still left to discuss is the short and long term economic impact of the tsunami on the Roman economy. In this respect, the main focus of our analysis must be relocated to the area of Alexandria and the Egyptian delta, because the province of Egypt provides a dataset of economic data not comparable to any other region of the Empire. First of all, like Ammianus attests, we can safely say that the tsunami struck Alexandria and Egypt with violence.

Such analyses have proved that in terms of the tidal wave, the area of Alexandria and the Delta were the worst affected by the tsunami, with waves of more than 8 metres This caused great devastation to the western area of the city. Recent excavations. Finally, we can say something on the impact that the tidal wave had at least on agricultural production cereals and wine, mainly and on farming activities.

It is safely accepted that agricultural production in Egypt was of paramount importance not only for the economy of the region, but also for the whole Empire. Yet, as recently remembered by A. Nevertheless, some scholars ventured in trying to calculate at least the surface of the arable land in Egypt, giving a figure between 20, and 25, kmq overall Of this, roughly 16, kmq would have been in the Delta Despite the extremely rough nature of such figures, we can easily understand the relative importance of the Delta in the overall agricultural production of Egypt, and how the tidal wave should in principle have had a disastrous impact on such production.

To add to this picture, we can also speculate that the Delta was used for fishfarming activities 65 , once more a business which should have suffered greatly for the disruption brought by the tsunami. We cannot know exactly how much of the arable land was affected by the tidal wave, but we know for sure the effect of salt on arable lands. This might be influenced by the nature of soil and of the crops, some being more resistant than others.

Still, given the high concentration of salt in marine water, the effect of salt pollution in the Delta would have been devastating. The salt would stick in the area of the roots of the crops, preventing them from being properly watered. The only solution to cope with such problem was to set up an efficient system of drainage to reclaim the saline soil.

Drainage consists in watering the soil deeply till the level of root zone, so that salt can progressively leach below the root zone, therefore allowing the plants to be properly watered again Such practice requires a good knowledge of irrigation procedures, a feature typical of the Egyptian area. This would allow us to think that the Roman Empire was in the position to cope with the disruption caused by the tsunami fairly quickly. This would lead us to two possible conclusions. The first one, that the impact of the tsunami on Egypt was limited, and therefore its economic consequences.

Yet, this possibility is clearly ruled out by what we have seen so far. The tsunami did hit Egypt possibly stronger than any other region of the Empire so, if there was any economic consequence of the tsunami in the Roman World, it must be visible there. The second option is that, simply, despite the impact in the short term, the tsunami was not able to affect the Roman economy in the medium or long term, not even on a regional scale.

Such an assumption leads us to some final considerations. First of all, we can assume that the overall economic performance of the Roman Empire in this period was solid, able to absorb the consequences of such a disaster without major difficulty. Secondly, we can add that such a solid economy was certainly backed up by a well organized system of reaction to natural disasters, as shown by the evidence of the north African cities. As far as our evidence is concerned with Antiquity, long periods of economic decay can hardly be attributed only to the consequences of eventual tsunami strikes.

Nonetheless, our data also seem to indicate that such disasters, caused by natural phenomena usually described as extremely odd by the ancient literature, may have contributed to exacerbate the economic conditions or even the stamina of societies already in decay. Alston, Trade and the city in Roman Egypt in H. Smith eds. Bean, Lycian Turkey, Avon, Bowman, Egypt after the Pharaons, London and Berkeley, Bowman, Quantifying Egyptian Agriculture, in A.

Wilson eds.

Cabanes dir. Cataudella, Polibio 5, e il terremoto di Rodi. Cevik and I. Clermont-Ferrand, , p. Dey and B. Di Vita, Evidenza dei territorio del e del d. Di Vita, Archaeologists and earthquakes: the case of AD Dominey-Howes, A re-analysis of the Late Bronze Age eruption and tsunami of Santorini, Greece, and the implications for the volcano-tsunami hazard in Journal of Vulcanology and Geothermal Research, , , p.

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Duggan, A short account of recorded calamities earthquakes and plagues in Antalya Province in Adalya, 7 , p. Farinetti, Boeotian Landscapes. A GIS-based study for the reconstruction and interpretation of the archaeological datasets of ancient Boeotia,. BAR Int. Farrington, The Roman Baths of Lycia. Ferrer Albelda, E. Espacios naturales y territorios ciudadanos prerromanos en el Bajo Guadalquivir in Mainake, 30, , p.

Fossey, Topography and Population of Ancient Boiotia,. Giardina, Navigare necesse est. Lighthouses from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. History, architecture, iconography and archaeological remains,. Reynolds ed. Select papers of the late R. Goodchild, London, , p. Jouanna, J. Leclant, M.

Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists
Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists

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