SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.57 issue1Dear ReadersTsunami deposit research in Mexico compels multi-disciplinary approach, not just multi-proxy application author indexsubject indexsearch form
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links

  • Have no similar articlesSimilars in SciELO


Geofísica internacional

On-line version ISSN 2954-436XPrint version ISSN 0016-7169

Geofís. Intl vol.57 n.1 Ciudad de México Jan./Mar. 2018 

Short notes

Application of multiple proxies in Mexican tropical coasts to prove evidence of tsunami deposits

María Teresa Ramírez-Herrera1  * 

Avto Goguitchaichvili2 

Francisco Bautista3 

Patricia Quintana4 

Ana-Carolina Ruiz-Fernández5 

Néstor Corona6 

Violeta Rangel1 

Marcelo Lagos7 

Vladimir Kostoglodov8 

María Luisa Machain9 

Daniel Aguilar Treviño4 

Rocío Castillo-Aja10 

Krzysztof Gaidzik11 

1Laboratorio Universitario de Geofísica Ambiental, Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

2Laboratorio Universitario de Geofísica Ambiental, Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Unidad Michoacán, UNAM-Campus Morelia, México

3Laboratorio Universitario de Geofísica Ambiental, Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Morelia, Morelia, México.

4Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Avanzados, Unidad Mérida, Yucatán, México.

5Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Unidad Académica Mazatlán, Mazatlán, México.

6Centro de Estudios en Geografía Humana, El Colegio de Michoacán A.C., Michoacán, México.

7Instituto de Geografía, Laboratorio de Tsunamis, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

8Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad de México, México.

9Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Ciudad de México, México.

10Posgrado en Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Ciudad de México, México.

11Department of Fundamental Geology, University of Silesia, Poland.

The study of tsunami deposits has significantly advanced since the Chilean 2010 and Tohoku 2011 tsunamis providing opportunities to analyze tsunami deposits and their characteristics (Rubin et al., 2017). In tropical environments, the combination of multiple proxies has de-monstrated to be a necessity to prove evidence of ancient earthquakes and tsunamis (Ramírez-Herrera et al., 2012, 2016; Williams et al., 2011). Challenges faced in the study of tsunami deposits in tropical areas frequently affected by hurricanes, lead to problems of differentiation between tsunami and storm deposits, and misinterpretations of climate/seasonal changes.

Ocampo-Ríos et al. (2017) attempted to study the geologic evidence of the 1985 tsunami in Barra de Potosí, México. Their assertion that an “erosive base” is the only tool to prove the existence of tsunami deposits is not correct. (1) Our previous work in the Barra de Potosí area (field and survey-based interviews to witnesses of the 1985 tsunami) indicate that the area around the village has been intervened by human activity, thus surficial sediments are not reliable. (2) Beaches are very dynamic, and are located where normally tsunami erosion occur, thus, this type of environments are not suitable for tsunami deposits preservation. (3) Ramírez-Herrera et al. (2012) research results come from sites in the Ixtapa estuary and not from Zihuatanejo Bay, i.e. a completely different geomorphic setting that consequently changes the tsunami impact and distribution of tsunami deposits. Thus, comparison by Ocampo-Ríos et al. (2017) with their sites is inadequate. (4) Ocampo-Rios et al. (2017) hydraulic roughness calculation (0.02) to determine the inundation limit shows inaccuracies. Values from 0.011 to 0.02 apply to flood plains with very irregular shape which is not the case for Ixtapa estuary studied by Ramírez-Herrera et al. (2012) nor is the Zihuatanejo Bay. The calculation of Manning´s values for the specific location (using the local topography, vegetation density, presence of barriers, etc.) is more appropriate than using standardized Manning´s values. We reassessed here the tsunami flooding area interpreted by Ocampo-Ríos et al. (2017) using their data and demonstrate that their results are not correct, the inundation continues beyond 700 m in both Zihuatanejo and Barra de Potosí areas. (5) . Mineral content and assemblages are source-dependent and therefore, they are not a useful tool alone to identify tsunami deposits (Jagodzinski et al., 2012). (6) Except for the Br concentration values, Ocampo-Ríos et al. (2017) do not show significant differences in the elemental composition of the “pre-tsunami” and “tsunami deposits”. The explanation provided on the low concentrations of Na, Cl and Br is not plausible. These elements have been widely used to identify marine provenance on sediment paleorecords along coastal areas. Br concentrations on soils can vary from 5 to 40 ppm, while on marine sediments they can reach up to 300 ppm (e.g. Ruiz-Fernández et al., 2016). The oxides used to demonstrate tsunami origin of the Barra de Potosí sediments named “tsunami deposits”, i.e. SiO2 and TiO2, if there was in fact any significant difference in values, would prove terrigenous characteristics and origin, and not marine. In summary, multiple proxies are required to prove evidence of tsunami deposits.


Jagodziński R., Sternala B., Szczuciński W., Chagué-Goffb C., Sugawarad D., 2012, Heavy minerals in the 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami deposits-insights into sediment sources and hydrodynamics. DOI:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2012.07.015 [ Links ]

Ocampo-Ríos B.G., D. Roy P., Macías M.C., Jonathan M.P., Lozano-Santacruz R., 2017, Tsunami deposits of September 21st 1985 in Barra de Potosí: comparison with other studies and evaluation of some geological proxies for southwestern Mexico. DOI:10.19155/geofint.2017.056.1.4 [ Links ]

Ramírez-Herrera M-T., Lagos M., Hutchinson I., Kostoglodov V., Machain M.L., Caballero M., Goguitchaichvili A., Aguilar B., Chagué-Goff C., Goffg J., Ruiz-Fernández A.-C., Ortiz M., Nava H., Bautista F., López G.I., Quintana P., Extreme wave deposits on the Pacific coast of Mexico: Tsunamis or storms? - A multi-proxy approach. 2012. DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.11.002 [ Links ]

Ramírez-Herrera M.T., Bógalo M.-F., Černý J., Goguitchaichvili A. , Corona N., Machain M.L. , Carranza Edwars A., Sosa S., 2016, Historic and ancient tsunamis uncovered on the Jalisco-Colima Pacific coast, the Mexican subduction zone. Geomorphology, Elsevier, 2016, roč. 259, April. DOI:1016/j.geomorph.2016.02.011 [ Links ]

Ruiz-Fernández A.C., Sánchez-Cabeza J.-A., Serrato de la Peña J.L., Pérez-Bernal L.H., Cearreta A., Flores-Verdugo F., Machain-Castillo M.L., Chamizo E., García-Tenorio R., Queralt I., Dunbar R., Mucciarone D., Díaz-Asencio M., 2016, Accretion rates in coastal wetlands of the southeastern Gulf of California and their relationship with sea-level rise. DOI:10.1177/0959683616632882 [ Links ]

Rubín C.M., P. Horton B., Sieh K., Pilarczyk J.E., Daly P., Ismail N., Parnell A.C., 2017, Highly variable recurrence of tsunamis in the 7,400 years before the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. DOI:10.1038/ncomms16019. [ Links ]

Williams S., Prasetya G., Chagué-Goff C. , Goff J., Fai Cheung K., Davies T., Wilson T., 2011, Characterising diagnostic proxies for identifying palaeotsunamis in a tropical climatic regime, Samoan Islands. DOI:10.23919/OCEANS.2011.6107137 [ Links ]

Received: August 17, 2017; Accepted: October 06, 2017


Creative Commons License This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License