Source and distribution of tsunami deposits at Chaihuín marsh (40° S/73.5° W), Chile

Diego Aedo, Daniel Melnick, Ed Garrett, Mario Pino


At Chaihuín marsh, south of Valdivia (39°56’ S/73°33’ W), a sand bed was deposited during the 1960 earthquake. The aim of this study is to map the 1960 tsunami deposit in detail and to associate earlier sand layers with past tsunamis. Geologic field mapping by means of stratigraphic sections constructed using 111 cores in the marsh revealed the existence of three sand layers. The source of these sand layers was determined by a statistical comparison of their sedimentological and mineralogical signatures with modern depositional environments. The results show that tsunami waves probably transported the sand layers found in the marsh. It is inferred that these sand layers were deposited in the marsh by tsunamis that followed subsidence associated with the great historical megathrust earthquakes of 1575, 1737 or 1837, and 1960. However, the three layers are different from each other in terms of lateral distribution and source, which we interpret as either changes in the sand bar associated with human occupation or differences in coseismic slip distribution resulting in variable accommodation space provided by coseismic subsidence as well as in tsunami wave height.


Paleoseismology; Tsunami; Marsh stratigraphy; Chaihuín; 1960 Chile earthquake

How to cite this article Aedo, D.; Melnick, D.; Garrett, E.; Pino, M. 2021, Source and distribution of tsunami deposits at Chaihuín marsh (40° S/73.5° W), Chile. Andean Geology 48 (1): 125-152. [doi:]