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Lake dwellers occupation gap in Lake Geneva (France-Switzerland) possibly explained by an earthquake – mass movement – tsunami event during Early Bronze Age

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Kremer Katrina, Marillier François, Hilbe Michael, Simpson Guy, Dupuy David, Yrro BleJ.F., Rachoud-Schneider Anne-Marie, Corboud Pierre, Bellwald Benjamin, Wildi Walter, Girardclos Stéphanie,
Project Quantifying human impact and recent climate change using clastic sediments from lacustrine records in Western Switzerland (Phase 2)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume (Issue) 385
Page(s) 28 - 39
Title of proceedings Earth and Planetary Science Letters
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.09.017

Open Access


High-resolution seismic and sediment core data from the ‘Grand Lac’ basin of Lake Geneva reveal traces of repeated slope instabilities with one main slide-evolved mass-flow (minimum volume 0.13 km3) that originated from the northern lateral slope of the lake near the city of Lausanne. Radiocarbon dating of organic remains sampled from the top of the main deposit gives an age interval of 1865-1608 BC. This date coincides with the age interval for a mass movement event described in the ‘Petit Lac’ basin of Lake Geneva (1872-1622 BC). Because multiple mass movements took place at the same time in different parts of the lake, we consider the most likely trigger mechanism to be a strong earthquake (Mw 6) that occurred in the period between 1872 and 1608 BC. Based on numerical simulations, we show the major deposit near Lausanne would have generated a tsunami with local wave heights of up to 6 m. The combined effects of the earthquake and the following tsunami provide a possible explanation for a gap in lake dwellers occupation along the shores of Lake Geneva revealed by dendrochronological dating of two palafitte archeological sites.