1303 Crete earthquake

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1303 Crete earthquake
1303 Crete earthquake is located in Greece
1303 Crete earthquake
Local date8 August 1303 (1303-08-08)
Local timeAt about dawn
Magnitude8.0 (est.)[1]
Epicenter35°00′N 27°00′E / 35.0°N 27.0°E / 35.0; 27.0Coordinates: 35°00′N 27°00′E / 35.0°N 27.0°E / 35.0; 27.0
Areas affectedGreece, Rhodes, Egypt
Max. intensityIX (Violent) [2]
Casualtiesmany thousands,[3] including about 4,000 in Crete[2]

The 1303 Crete earthquake occurred at about dawn on 8 August. It had an estimated magnitude of about 8, a maximum intensity of IX (Violent) on the Mercalli intensity scale, and triggered a major tsunami that caused severe damage and loss of life on Crete and at Alexandria. It badly damaged the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Tectonic setting[edit]

The Hellenic arc, the most likely location for this earthquake, is an arcuate tectonic feature related to the subduction of the African Plate beneath the Aegean Sea Plate. It is one of the most active seismic zones in western Eurasia and has a history of large earthquakes that also affect Egypt.[3]


The earthquake and the tsunami are recorded as having a devastating impact on Heraklion, Crete.[4] Detailed information is available from reports made by representatives from Heraklion (then Candia) to the controlling Venetian administration, written on the day of the earthquake and twenty days later. They describe the extent of damage to the main public buildings of Candia and castles over the whole island. The reports also mention that most of the victims were women and children, without giving numbers.[5] There was also massive flooding at Alexandria. Many ships were destroyed, some of them carried up to 2 miles (3.2 km) inland. The port city of Acre, on the Levantine coast, was also affected; buildings were destroyed and people swept to their deaths.[1]

In Egypt the earthquake caused severe damage in Cairo, dislodging much of the Great Pyramid's white limestone casing[citation needed] and toppling minarets on many mosques. In Alexandria the city walls were mostly destroyed. Most notably, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the world, was badly damaged.[1][6] According to Alexis Perrey, the earthquake was felt on the entire Adriatic coast, up to Venice (about 1,600 km or 1,000 mi from Heraklion).[7]



Although the precise location of the epicenter is uncertain, it is generally agreed that the earthquake ruptured the eastern segment of the Hellenic arc somewhere between Crete and Rhodes.[1][3][5][8] The earthquake caused damage over a wide area including Crete, the Peloponnese, Rhodes, Cairo, Acre, Damascus, Antioch, and Cyprus and was felt as far away as Constantinople (1,000 km, 620 mi) and possibly Tunis (1,500 km, 930 mi). The exact magnitude is unknown but is estimated to have been about 8.0.[8]


Modelling of the tsunami predicts a maximum 9 m run-up at Alexandria, with about a 40-minute delay from the time of the earthquake to the arrival of the first wave in Egypt.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Papadopolous, G. A.; Daskalaki, E.; Fokaefs, A.; N., Giraleas (2007). "Tsunami hazards in the Eastern Mediterranean: strong earthquakes and tsunamis in the East Hellenic Arc and Trench system" (PDF). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. 7 (1): 57–64. Bibcode:2007NHESS...7...57P. doi:10.5194/nhess-7-57-2007.
  2. ^ a b National Geophysical Data Center/ World Data Service (NGDC/WDS): NCEI/WDS Global Significant Earthquake Database. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (1972). "Significant Earthquake Information". NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. doi:10.7289/V5TD9V7K. Retrieved 30 March 2022. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Hamouda, A. Z. (2006). "Numerical computations of 1303 tsunamigenic propagation towards Alexandria, Egyptian Coast". Journal of African Earth Sciences. 44 (1): 37–44. Bibcode:2006JAfES..44...37H. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2005.11.005.
  4. ^ Tsapanos, T. M. (2003). "A seismic hazard scenario for the main cities of Crete island, Greece". Geophysical Journal International. 153 (2): 403–408. Bibcode:2003GeoJI.153..403T. doi:10.1046/j.1365-246X.2003.01874.x.
  5. ^ a b Guidoboni, E.; Comastri, A. (1997). "The large earthquake of 8 August 1303 in Crete: seismic scenario and tsunami in the Mediterranean area". Journal of Seismology. 1 (1): 55–72. Bibcode:1997JSeis...1...55G. doi:10.1023/A:1009737632542. S2CID 126898422.
  6. ^ Abdelnaby, Adel E.; Elnashai, Amr S. (October 2013). "Integrity assessment of the Pharos of Alexandria during the 1303 CE earthquake". Engineering Failure Analysis. 33: 119–138. doi:10.1016/j.engfailanal.2013.04.013.
  7. ^ Kišpatić, Mijo (1891). Potresi u Hrvatskoj [Earthquakes in Croatia] (in Croatian). Zagreb: Tisak Dioničke tiskare. p. 14. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  8. ^ a b Papazachos, B. C. (1996). "Large seismic faults in the Hellenic arc" (PDF). Annali di Geofisica. 39 (5): 891–903.