Exploring typhoon variability over the mid-to-late Holocene: evidence of extreme coastal flooding from Kamikoshiki, Japan

TitleExploring typhoon variability over the mid-to-late Holocene: evidence of extreme coastal flooding from Kamikoshiki, Japan
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWoodruff, JD, Donnelly, JP, Okusu, A
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews

Sediment cores from two coastal lakes located on the island of Kamikoshiki in southwestern Japan (Lake Namakoike and Lake Kaiike) provide evidence for the response of a backbarrier beach system to episodic coastal inundation over the last 6400 years. Sub-bottom seismic surveys exhibit acoustically laminated, parallel to subparallel seismic reflectors, intermittently truncated by erosional unconformities. Sediment cores collected from targeted depocenters in both lakes contain finely laminated organic mud interbedded with coarse-grained units, with depths of coarse deposits concurrent with prominent seismic reflectors. The timing of the youngest deposit at Kamikoshiki correlates to the most recently documented breach in the barrier during a typhoon in 1951 AD. Assuming that this modern deposit provides an analog for identifying past events, paleo-typhoons may be reconstructed from layers exhibiting an increase in grain-size, a break in fine-scale stratigraphy, and elevated Sr concentrations. Periods of barrier breaching are concurrent with an increase in El Nino frequency, indicating that the El Nino/Southern Oscillation has potentially played a key role in governing typhoon variability during the mid-to-late Holocene. An inverse correlation is observed between tropical cyclone reconstructions from the western North Atlantic and the Kamikoshiki site, which may indicate an oscillating pattern in tropical cyclone activity between the western Northern Atlantic and the western North Pacific, or at least between the western Northern Atlantic and regions encompassing southern Japan. The two kamikaze typhoons which contributed to the failed Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 AD and 1281 AD occur during a period with more frequent marine-sourced deposition at the site, suggesting that the events took place during a period of greater regional typhoon activity. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.