Sediment records left by coastal hazards (e.g. tsunami and/or storms) may shed light on the sedimentary and hydrodynamic processes happening during such events. Modern onshore and offshore sediment samples were compared with the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, three palaeotsunami and a 2007 storm deposit from Phra Thong Island, Thailand, to determine provenance relationships between these coastal overwash deposits. Sedimentological and stratigraphic characteristics are generally inadequate to discriminate tsunami and storm deposits so a statistical approach (including cluster analysis, principal component analysis and discriminant function analysis) was used based on grain size, mineralogy and trace element geochemistry. The mineral content and trace element geochemistry are statistically inadequate to distinguish the provenance of the modern storm and tsunami deposits at this site, but the mean grain size can potentially discriminate these overwash deposits. The 2007 storm surge deposits were most likely sourced from the onshore sediment environment whereas all four tsunami units statistically differ from each other indicating diverse sediment sources. Our statistical analyses suggest that the 2004 tsunami deposit was mainly derived from nearshore marine sediments. The uppermost palaeotsunami deposit was possibly derived from both onshore and nearshore materials while the lower palaeotsunami deposits showed no clear evidence of their sediment sources. Such complexity raises questions about the origin of the sediments in the tsunami and storm deposits and strongly suggests that local context and palaeogeography are important aspects that cannot be ignored in tsunami provenance studies.
Available for download on Friday, January 26, 2018