Identification of a volcaniclastic tsunami deposit at a volcanically active region in southeastern Kyushu, Japan

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Masaki Yamada1, Yugo Nakamura2, Hiroshi Moriwaki3, Takashi Chiba1 and Shigehiro Fujino4, (1)University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan, (2)Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, (3)Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan, (4)Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
A total of two pumiceous layers bounded by sharp upper and lower contacts with surrounding mud were evident in almost all of the 19 sediment cores in southeastern Kyushu, Japan. The upper orange-tinged pumiceous layer A with approx. 5 cm thickness was present at around 2.0–3.5 m deep, while the lower white-tinged pumiceous layer B with a few millimeters to 1.5 cm thickness was found beneath the layer A. The major element composition and refraction index of volcanic glass shards in layers A and B were consistent with those of standard sample of Kr-M and Sz-7, respectively. The Kr-M tephra, sourced from the Mt. Kirishima in southern part of Kyushu, was deposited approx. 4600 years ago, while the Sz-7 tephra, sourced from the Sakurajima in southern part of Kyushu, was deposited approx. 5000 years ago. Selected seeds, leaves, and plant debris obtained from mud samples immediately beneath the layers A and B provided their limiting-maximum ages of approx. 4500 cal. yr BP and 4500–4600 cal. yr BP. The results of the tephra analyses and radiocarbon age indicate that the layer A is the Kr-M fall tephra. However, the limiting-maximum age of the layer B is 400 years younger than the fall age of Sz-7. Given the higher percentage of marine and brackish diatoms than the background mud, deposition of the layer B is thought to be due to a seawater inundation event such as tsunami.

It is quite likely that volcaniclastic tsunami deposits exist not only in Kyushu, but also at any site in the subduction zones all over the world. The same approach as this study contributes to the discovery of overlooked tsunami deposits in other areas.