A scenario-based assessment of the tsunami hazard in palermo, northern sicily, and the southern tyrrhenian sea

Daniele Spatola, Elisabetta Zizzo, Attilio Sulli, Christof Mueller, Daniele Spatola, Jack Dignan, Aaron Micallef, Aaron Micallef

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)


Palermo is a populous city situated on the northern coast of Sicily, bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea. This central part of the Mediterranean Sea features dramatic bathymetry, numerous subaqueous landslides and is also the epicentre to many subaqueous earthquakes. As such, the region is an area prone to tsunamis. This investigation uses the Cornell Multi-Grid Coupled Tsunami (COMCOT) tsunami modelling package to simulate five near-field landslides, and five near-field earthquakes regarded as worst-case credible scenarios for Palermo. The seismic simulations produced waves on a very small scale, the largest being c. 5 cm at its maximum height, and none of the earthquake-generated tsunami waves produced any measurable inundation. The landslide simulations produced larger waves ranging from 1.9 to 12 m in maximum height, two of which resulted in inundation in areas surrounding the Port of Palermo. Sensitivity analysis identified that fault width and dislocation as well as landslide-specific gravity did have significant influence over maximum wave height, inundation and maximum run-up wave height. There are methodological issues limiting the extent to which this study forms a comprehensive tsunami hazard assessment of Palermo, such as gaps in bathymetric data, computational restrictions and lack of a probabilistic element. These issues are counteracted by the fact that this study does serve as a robust first step in identifying that landslides in the region may produce larger tsunami waves than earthquakes, and that the directionality of mass movement is critical in landslide-driven tsunami propagation in the southern Tyrrhenian region.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSubaqueous Mass Movements and their Consequences: Advances in Process Understanding, Monitoring and Hazard Assessments
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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