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1222 Cyprus earthquake

Coordinates: 34°42′N 32°36′E / 34.7°N 32.6°E / 34.7; 32.6
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1222 Cyprus earthquake
1222 Cyprus earthquake is located in Cyprus
1222 Cyprus earthquake
Local date11 May 1222 (1222-05-11)
Local time08:15
Epicenter34°42′N 32°36′E / 34.7°N 32.6°E / 34.7; 32.6
Areas affectedCyprus
Max. intensityMMI IX (Violent)

The 1222 Cyprus earthquake occurred at about 06:15 UTC on 11 May. It had an estimated magnitude of 7.0–7.5 and triggered a paleotsunami that was recorded in Libya and Alexandria. The strongest shaking was felt in Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos.[1] Many people died, although there are no estimates for the total number of casualties.[2]

Tectonic setting[edit]

The estimated location of the earthquake is on the southwestern coast of Cyprus and is thought to be associated with the Cyprus arc. The Cyprus arc is part of the plate boundary zone that accommodates the motion of the African Plate relative to the Anatolian Plate. The relative motion of the Anatolian Plate is almost entirely westwards relative to the African Plate.[3] In the eastern part of the arc, earthquakes are entirely strike-slip in character. To the west they show a combination of thrust faulting and strike-slip. A major NE-SW trending strike-slip structure has been identified just west of Cyprus, that is responsible for larger earthquakes in this area.[3]


Much damage was caused at Limassol and Nicosia and other parts of the island, but the greatest damage was done at Paphos, where there was great loss of life.[2] Paphos Castle, a Byzantine fort, was destroyed and had to be rebuilt by the Lusignans. A modern excavation at Paphos Castle found the remains of a man who apparently climbed into the castle's main drain to escape the earthquake but was trapped there by falling masonry.[4] The sea retreated from the harbour but returned and flooded the town. A church is said to have fallen, burying the bishop and his congregation. Monks of the Franciscan order abandoned their church in Paphos after the earthquake.[5] The castle of Saranta Kolones, built only 30 years earlier overlooking the harbour, was destroyed by the earthquake. It was never rebuilt, as it was no longer needed to protect the port, which had dried up.[6][7] The earthquake permanently changed Paphos, rendering the harbour unusable, and moving the shoreline seawards; it no longer had a protected anchorage.[7]


The estimated magnitude for this event is 7.0–7.5 with a maximum estimated felt intensity of IX (Violent).[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yolsal, S.; Taymaz T. (2010). "Sensitivity Analysis on Relations Between Earthquake Source Rupture Parameters and Far-Field Tsunami Waves: Case Studies in the Eastern Mediterranean Region". Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences. 19 (3): 313–349. Bibcode:2005TuJES..14..281Y. doi:10.3906/yer-0902-8. S2CID 131426966.
  2. ^ a b Ambraseys, N.; Melville, C.P.; Adams, R. D. (1994). The seismicity of Egypt, Arabia, and the Red Sea: a historical review. Cambridge University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-521-39120-7.
  3. ^ a b Wdowinski, S.; Ben-Avraham Z., Arvidsson R. & Ekström G. (2006). "Seismotectonics of the Cyprian Arc". Geophysical Journal International. 164 (1): 176–181. Bibcode:2006GeoJI.164..176W. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2005.02737.x.
  4. ^ Mitchell, P.D. (2004). Medicine in the Crusades: warfare, wounds, and the medieval surgeon. Cambridge University Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-521-84455-0.
  5. ^ Antonopoulos, J. (1980). "Data from investigation on seismic Sea waves events in the Eastern Mediterranean from 1000 to 1500 A.D". Annali di Geofisica. 33: 179–198.
  6. ^ Rosser, J. (1985). "Excavations at Saranda Kolones, Paphos, Cyprus, 1981–1983". Dumbarton Oaks Papers (in French). 39: 81–97. doi:10.2307/1291516. JSTOR 1291516. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
  7. ^ a b Pryor, J.H. (2006). Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades: Proceedings of a Workshop Held at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney, 30 September to 4 October 2002. Ashgate Publishing. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7546-5197-0.

Further reading[edit]