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Title

Geomorphological record of extreme wave events during Roman times in the Guadalquivir estuary (Gulf of Cadiz, SW Spain): An archaeological and paleogeographical approach

AuthorsRodríguez-Ramírez, Antonio; Villarías Robles, Juan J. R. ; Pérez-Asensio, José Noel; Santos, Ana; Morales, Juan Antonio; Celestino Pérez, Sebastián ; León Conde, Ángel; Santos, F. J.
KeywordsSouthwest Spain
Coastal geomorphology
Roman period
Extreme wave events (EWEs)
Issue Date2016
PublisherElsevier
CitationGeomorphology 261: 103-118 (2016)
AbstractAnalysis of the geological record has made it possible to delimit for the Guadalquivir estuary the traces of extreme wave events (EWEs) during the Roman period in the Iberian Peninsula (218 BCE to 476 CE). The largest event occurred in the 2nd-3rd century CE. It generated clearly visible erosive effects in the coastal barriers, including washover fans and erosional scarps. In the inner estuary, however, the effects were minor: crevasse splays that broke levees and cheniers, as well as a residual sedimentary lag. The significant development of the spits protected the inner estuary from the marine incursion, which only caused a water level rise with low-regime waves. Correlation of the geomorphological and sedimentary marks left by this event with the archaeological and geological evidence of other events recognized elsewhere in the Gulf of Cadiz effectively argues for a tsunami as to the nature of the 2nd-3rd century CE event. Yet this and the other identified EWEs in the Guadalquivir estuary during the pre-Roman and the Roman period all fit a model of paleogeographic evolution dominated by processes of coastal progradation and estuarine infilling. Radiocarbon dating, geomorphological analysis, and historical references fail to warrant the so-called '218-209 BCE' Atlantic tsunami, as hypothesized in the received scientific literature. In pre-Roman and Roman times, human occupation at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River was strongly influenced by various geodynamic processes, the location of the settlements being contingent upon dependable, fast communication with the sea and, above all, upon adequate protection from EWEs, on the leeward side of spits. Progressive progradation of these coastal barriers combined with the gradual infilling of the estuary to make navigation to open sea increasingly difficult and, eventually, to result in the abandonment of settlements.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/158488
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.02.030
issn: 0169-555X
e-issn: 1872-695X
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