Sedimentary record of historical extreme storm surges on the Gulf of Gdańsk coast, Baltic Sea

Damian Moskalewicz , Witold Szczuciński , Przemysław Mroczek , Giedre Vaikutienė


The Baltic Sea is commonly viewed as a region with a low frequency of coastal hazards such as tsunamis or extreme storm surges. However, historical sources indicate that in the past, several catastrophic storm surges resulted in coastal floods and related casualties. Their sedimentological records and reconstructions of paleostorminess were so far studied mainly in the westernmost (Denmark) and easternmost (Estonia) parts of the Baltic Sea. The present study focus on southern Baltic coast (Gulf of Gdańsk), where storm surge sedimentary deposits left within coastal peatlands were investigated, and related to historical record in order to compare recent risk estimations and predictions of storm surge levels to geological data. To achieve this aim, the collected sediment cores were subjected to sedimentological, grain size, and diatom analyses, supported with 137Cs, 210Pb, and 14C datings. Two types of sandy event deposits were identified, and interpreted to be storm deposits formed under an inundation regime and overwash regime, respectively. The deposits formed under the inundation regime were characterised by an erosional lower boundary, massive structure and presence of rip-up clasts of underlying sediments, whereas the sediments formed under the overwash regime were low-angle planar cross-stratified medium sands with intercalations of massive fine sand. The recognized sandy storm deposits were dated mainly to the Little Ice Age period (XVIth–XIXth centuries). They were most likely left during the historical storms of 1825, 1872, and 1914 CE. It extends the sedimentary record of known historical events as mainly storms from 1497 CE and 1872 CE were reported previously from Baltic Sea. Notably, none of the historical storm events during the past 100-year period have formed a distinguishable sedimentary record. These findings clearly show that risk models and storm return period predictions, which are based on instrumental measurements from the last century, should also include geological evidence. The strongest storm surges from the past century may not be adequate reference of a worst case scenario.
Author Damian Moskalewicz (FOG/IG/DGQG)
Damian Moskalewicz,,
- Department of Geomorphology and Quarternary Geology
, Witold Szczuciński
Witold Szczuciński,,
, Przemysław Mroczek
Przemysław Mroczek,,
, Giedre Vaikutienė
Giedre Vaikutienė,,
Journal seriesMarine Geology, ISSN 0025-3227, e-ISSN 1872-6151, (N/A 100 pkt)
Issue year2020
Publication size in sheets0.70
Article number106084
Keywords in EnglishBaltic Sea, storm surges, storm deposits, washovers, 137Cs and 210Pb dating,14C dating
ASJC Classification1906 Geochemistry and Petrology; 1907 Geology; 1910 Oceanography
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)100
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 100.0, 23-02-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2017 = 1.317; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 3.349 (2) - 2018=3.828 (5)
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