Study sheds new light on 4th century Crete quake


A study published in AGU Advances, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, challenges the prevailing theory regarding the devastating 365 AD earthquake of Crete and the tsunami that followed off the coast of Egypt, postulating a version fitting the description of Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.

This quake wrought destruction on Crete, helping raise its western part by up to 9 meters, and is considered the Mediterranean’s strongest ever, while the tsunami devastated coastal cities and is believed to have destroyed the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Until now estimates said the quake measured 8.3-8.7 Richter, with an epicenter west of Gavdos. However, according to the team led by Richard Ott, a scientist at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, the quake didn’t exceed 8 Richter, while the elevation rise didn’t occur all at once, but gradually, with a series of strong quakes before the big one.