The Meiwa Tsunami, one of the largest tsunamis recorded in historical documents in Japan struck Ishigaki Island and neighboring islands of the Ryukyu Arc in April 1771 AD, killing more than 12 000 people. An enormous number of massive Porites coral boulders are scattered on the shore and in the reef moat of eastern Ishigaki Island. Although these boulders likely were cast ashore by the Meiwa Tsunami, a detailed examination has not yet been conducted. When the marine reservoir effect is taken into account, one of mode values of calibrated radiocarbon dates possibly corresponds to the time of the 1771 event. However, the range of calibrated radiocarbon ages indicates that the transport of the boulders cannot be ascribed solely to the tsunami. Oxygen isotope microprofiling, which indicates sea-surface temperature variation, was therefore conducted to further investigate the mechanism of transport. The results suggest that the skeletal growth of most coral colonies was interrupted in summer or autumn; hence, tropical storms and typhoons are also very likely to be agents of transport. Thus, by combining radiocarbon dating with oxygen isotope microprofiling to investigate Porites coral boulders, it is possible to separate paleotsunami boulders from those transported by storm events as far as tsunamis occurred during the non-storm season.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)