Geologic records of Holocene typhoon strikes on the Gulf of Thailand coast

Publication Date : 2016-02-01
Author : WilliamsHarry
Countries : Thailand
Disaster Management Theme :
Disaster Type : Tropical Cyclone
Document Type : Research Paper
Languange : en
Link :

Abstact :

Washover sedimentation resulting from modern typhoon strikes on the Gulf of Thailand coast forms anomalous sand layers in low-energy coastal environments including marshes, ponds and swales. The primary diagnostic for recognizing prehistoric typhoon-deposited sand layers in the geologic record are sharp upper and lower contacts between coarser-grained transported sand layers and finer-grained in-situ sediments. In this first paleotempestology study in Thailand, cores from two low-energy settings on the Gulf of Thailand coast – a coastal marsh near Cha-am and beach ridge plain swales near Kui Buri – reveal geologic evidence of up to 19 typhoon strikes within the last 8000 years. The sand layers have sharp upper and lower contacts with enclosing finer sediments. Some sand layers also contain other evidence of a sudden powerful landward-directed surge of ocean water, including gravel-sized clasts, offshore foraminifera, abundant shell fragments, plant debris and mud rip-up clasts. Sand layers record eleven typhoon strikes at Cha-am, ranging in age from AD 1952 to 7575 cal. yr. BP, and eight typhoon strikes at Kui Buri, ranging in age from 4075 to 7740 cal. yr. BP. Bayesian age–depth models, derived from eight AMS radiocarbon dates, suggest that the frequency of typhoon strikes was 2–5 times greater from 3900 to 7800 cal. yr. BP compared to 0–3900 cal. yr. BP. Possible explanations for this variability in the typhoon record are that typhoons were more frequent and/or more intense in Southeast Asia in the mid-Holocene because of climatic changes associated with the Mid-Holocene Warm Period or that the record reflects site sensitivity changes resulting from a mid-Holocene sea-level highstand. The preliminary finding of a possible link between warmer conditions and a greater frequency of intense typhoon strikes could have important societal implications, given possible consequences of ongoing global warming.