Low resolution - Odysseus Unbound


Low resolution - Odysseus Unbound

The magazine of The Geological Society of LondonGeoscientist Volume 18 • No 9 • September 2008Testing classicalenigmasNEW! Read it first at Geoscientist Online - www.geolsoc.org.uk

Geoscientist The magazine of The Geological Society of LondonFront cover:View looking SW across Mirtos Bay,Kefalonia. The much-photographedbeachscape results from Holoceneerosion of soft Miocene marl in the coreof a footwall syncline, the SW limb ofwhich consists of Paleogene limestones(cliffs on far side of bay) associated witha major Hellenide (Alpine) thrust fault(that outcrops in the slopes below wherethe photo was taken). Continuing marinecliff-line erosion of these limestonescreates major rockfall and landslidedeposits - the importance of which forTesting Classical Enigmas on the islandis addressed in this month’s feature.Photograph: John UnderhillGeoscientist is published by The Geological Society Publishing House, Unit 7, Brassmill Enterprise Centre, Brassmill Lane, Bath BA1 3JNTel: 01225 445046, Fax: 01225 442836, Email: carol.liddle@geolsoc.org.ukEditorial Team Editor-in-Chief: Professor Tony Harris, Editor: Dr Ted Nield, Features Editor: Dr Robin Cocks, Editorial Adviser: Dr Joe McCallContributing Editor: Dr Sue Bowler, Production Editor: Carol Liddle, Reviews Editor: Dr Martin Degg, Council Representative: Dr Nick RogersFellowship Queries The Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BG Tel:+44 (0)20 7434 9944,Fax: +44 (0)20 7439 8975, Email: enquiries@geolsoc.org.uk, Society website: www.geolsoc.org.ukLibrary Tel: +44 (0)20 7432 0999, Fax: +44 (0)20 7439 3470, Email: library@geolsoc.org.uk.Advertising D P Media, Suite 201 QC30, 30 Queen Charlotte Street, Bristol BS1 4HJ Tel 0117 904 1283 Fax 0117 904 0085Email: sales@dpmedia.co.ukPrinted by City Print (Milton Keynes) Ltd, 17 Denbigh Hall, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 7QT Tel: 01908 377085, Fax 01908 649335Email: sales@cityprint.net©The Geological Society of London is a Registered Charity, number 210161 ISSN 0961-5628Trustees of the Geological Society of LondonProfessor P Allen, Dr I D Bartholomew (Vice President), Professor M G Culshaw (Vice President), Dr M Daly, Professor E Derbyshire (Secretary, Foreignand External Affairs), Professor A J Fleet (Treasurer), Professor C M R Fowler, Professor L E Frostick (President), Dr R Herrington, Dr R E Holdsworth,Dr A Law, Dr A Lord, Dr J Ludden, Professor D A C Manning (Secretary, Professional Matters), Professor J D Marshall, Dr N W Rogers (Secretary,Publications), Mr D T Shilston, Dr G W Tuckwell (Secretary, Information Management), Dr J Turner, Mrs J H E Turner, Professor A B Watts (Secretary,Science), Professor R S White, Dr R A W Wood.This magazine is printed on 50% recycled paper and 50% virgin fibre from sustainable forests: Forest Stewardship Council Approved.Contents4 GeonewsNews items relevant to the interests ofworking geologists8 PeopleGeoscientists in the news and on the move12 Society at largeWhat your Society is doing at home andabroad, in London and the regions20 Feature - Testing classical enigmas by John R Underhill16 OpinionReviews28 CalendarA forward plan of Society activities34 CrosswordWin a special publication of your choice3

featureFigure 1 (left): Islands of W. Greece. Thedisposition of modern Ithaki and itsnearby islands and the Paliki peninsula(W. Kefalonia). Distances A and B, quotedby Strabo in stades, are converted tokilometres and compared with today’smeasurements.Figure 2 (right): Aerial photograph of theThinia isthmus on Kefalonia. The surfaceof the central area of the isthmus consistsmainly of loose rockfall and landslidedebris. Photograph by Robert Bittlestone.Figure 3 (far right): Geological surfacesurvey of Thinia isthmus. The originaltwo-dimensional survey diagram hasbeen rendered by a digital elevationmodel (DEM).Testing classical enigmasAs geoscience edges closer to answering theriddle of “Strabo’s Channel” it may also solveone of the greatest mysteries in western literature,writes John R. Underhill. *The location of Homer’s enigmatic island of Ithaca has puzzledscholars for over 2500 years. True, an Ionian island calledIthaki exists today off the western coast of Greece (Figure 1).However, with a vertiginous coastline and high topography,facing east and standing nearest to the mainland of a group ofthree islands, it directly contradicts a key passage from theOdyssey describing Odysseus’ homeland as furthest out to sea ofa group of four islands, low-lying and “facing the dusk” (i.e. west) 1 .In 2003 Robert Bittlestone proposed a solution to thisconundrum by suggesting that at the time of the Trojan War3200 years ago, the low-lying western peninsula of Kefalonia(Paliki) had been an island. This idea demanded that a landbridge linking Paliki to the rest of Kefalonia had arisen sincethat time – posing a considerable geological challenge.Previous accounts of the project in which I andCambridge University classicist James Digglehave been engaged were published in the bookOdysseus Unbound 2 and in Geoscientist 3,4,5 . Thepresent article provides an update on progresssince March 2007, when geoscience companyFugro agreed to sponsor the geological investigationusing the latest land-based, marine andairborne technologies.Strabo’s ChannelIn his 17-volume Geography, composed some time in the firsttwo decades of the Christian era, the Greek writer Strabodescribed the known world, employing an astute combinationof personal observation and other travellers’ reports.Describing Kefalonia he wrote:Cephallenia lies opposite Acarnania, at a distance of about fiftystadia from Leucatas (some say forty), and about one hundred andeighty from Chelonatas. It has a perimeter of about three hundredstadia, is long, extending towards Eurus [east or south-east], andis mountainous. The largest mountain upon it is Aenus, whereon isthe temple of Zeus Aenesius; and where the island is narrowest itforms an isthmus so low-lying that it is often submerged from sea tosea. Both Paleis and Crannii are on the gulf near the narrows 6 .This 2000 year-old description contains some surprisinglyprecise and accurate measurements (Figure 1) 7 . These inspireconfidence in the veracity of Strabo’s reference to a low-lyingnarrow isthmus near Paleis and Crannii that is often (but byimplication, not always) covered by the sea from end to end.The location of these two settlements is not in doubt since theyImages, left to right:Figure 4: Satellite image of the Thinia isthmus, Kefalonia. Backgroundimage ©Google Earth / Digital Globe.Figure 5a: Mass wastage at Myrtos Bay. (Location shown in Figure 4.).Photograph by John Underhill.Figure 5b: Deposits of mass wastage due to cliff failure, NE of AgiaKiriaki bay. (Location shown in Figure 4.). Photograph by RobertBittlestone.* Grant Institute of Earth Science, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, The King’s Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JW, UK (jru@staffmail.ed.ac.uk).4

featureare still visible today. Strabo therefore provides an all-importantindependent reference to a marine channel in just the rightplace to make an island of the Paliki peninsula – a place nowoccupied by the isthmus of Thinia.So the notion of a buried marine channel that existed in the13 th Century BC is supported by a separate and much laterhistorical reference, and is clearly testable using moderngeoscientific methods. Over the past three years, field geology,geophysical techniques and geomorphic methods have thereforebeen deployed to test the theory.Geological settingThe Thinia valley is approximately 6km long, up to 2km wideand rises to around 180m in its central saddle area (Figure 2).It is bounded on either side by steep hill ranges, rising toalmost 1km on its eastern flank. Geological field studies showthat Thinia may be separated into two distinct parts. Thewestern area consists of a largely stratigraphically conformablebut tilted, gently folded and locally thrusted (para-autochthonous)succession of Cretaceous and Paleogene limestones, unconformablyoverlain by Miocene marls and clastic sediments dippinggently eastward. In the eastern area, Cretaceous and Paleogenelimestones dip very steeply westward (Figure 3) 8 . The boundarybetween the two provinces is the Aenos Thrust, which hasemplaced the westerly-dipping Cretaceous-Paleogene limestonesof the east onto the easterly-dipping Miocene sediments of thewest (though its trace is largely obscured by rockfall debris).The steep (45° - >60°) westerly dips seen on the east side ofthe valley are the result of their forming the western limb of amajor hanging-wall anticline as a natural consequence ofthrust emplacement. The eastern hillslopes along the Thiniavalley are highly unstable and catastrophic collapse as a resultof bedding-plane failure is common, with many of the steeplydippingbedding planes showing evidence (e.g. slickensides)of down-dip (flexural) slip.If Strabo’s account is accurate then as recently as 2200 yearsago this isthmus, in places now 180m above sea level, was“often submerged from sea to sea”. The key questions aretherefore:• What geological mechanism could have caused the infill?• What did Strabo mean by “often”?Tectonic instabilityOn a regional scale Kefalonia lies at the NW extremity of theHellenic Subduction Zone, along which collision betweenEurasia and Africa is taking place. Kefalonia is the mostseismically active part of western Greece and is experiencingouter-arc uplift. Plio-Pleistocene sediments exhibit significantneotectonic deformation 9 .The island is being thrust up by major earthquakes (M >7.0)occurring on average once every 50 years. On 12 August 1953 amagnitude 7.2 event uplifted much of the island by about 60cm,and there is growing evidence (from marine notches and raisedbeaches) of tectonic uplift of up to six metres having taken place(relative to sea level) over the last few thousand years.Although co-seismic upthrust is significant, the fact that thevalley’s central saddle stands so high (Figure 2) clearly rules itout as a primary factor – but there are other factors at play.5

featureSlope failureTriggered by powerful earthquakes, Thinia valley’s unstableeastern slopes often generate rock avalanches today andthere is clear field evidence for major rockfalls and landslidesin this area. Widespread boulder-strewn slopes are common,many involving high-volume mass wastage in which largesections of the mountainside have detached from underlyingstrata during the late Holocene.Figure 6a: Gravitational potential for mass wastage at Nifi (Thinia valley).Photograph by Robert Bittlestone.Figure 4 is a satellite image of the isthmus in which the bluelines indicate unstable hillslope edges. Yellow and greenlines show the most likely eastern and western boundariesfor any buried channel, based on serial cross-sections, slopegeometry and an extensive surface survey. The location of thenarrow southern end of this potential channel route isclosely constrained by the adjacent limestone strata, butthe surface geology of the much wider northern segmentat present suggests several possible channel routes forgeoscientific evaluation.Several spectacular examples of collapse characterise thecoastline to the north of Thinia (Figures 5a & b). The photographin 5a shows a large, unstable detached (olistolith)block on the eastern cliff of Myrtos Bay. The car highlightedfor scale gives some idea of the mass involved. Figure 5bshows how contemporary cliff failure has narrowly avoideddestroying the coast road. Much of the debris from this fallhas already been washed out to sea here because the base ofthe cliff is unconfined.Figure 6b: Catastrophic landslide at Nifi (Thinia valley), November 2007.Photograph by John Underhill.The landscape on the eastern side of the Thinia valleyconsists mainly of loose, pulverised debris that has descendedcatastrophically from the mountains above. A major, isolatedwesterly-derived rockfall deposit also sits at the northerlyend of the isthmus beneath the village of Zola. In severalinstances, extensive rockfall and landslide deposits have cutoff roads and carried away houses (Figures 7 & 13).Figure 6a shows the scale of the eastern mountain rangeabove Nifi village. As well as the effects of high-altitudeco-seismic hillslope failure, this village also suffers fromlocal landslides which can take place without help fromearthquakes in wet conditions. The last such event occurredin November 2007 and destroyed several houses (Figure 6b& c). Further to the south of the island, the August 1953earthquake triggered several major cliff collapses 3 .Figure 6c: November 2007 Newspaper report: “Nifi’s Night of Horror:sudden catastrophe drowns 4 houses in mud”.Images. left to right:Figures 9a, b (upper), c (lower) & d:(a) Field collection of the resistivity survey in the area of rockfall;(b) W-E striking resistivity line,(c) seismic refraction line at Lake Katochori(for location see Figure 4);(d) the resulting resistivity map defining the sedimentary fill atLake Katochori.Fig 9a6

featureGeoscientific testsEarlier land-based research workhad focused upon geologicalmapping. The results highlightedthe importance of rockfall debrisstrewn across large parts of thevalley, particularly below its easternslopes (from which most of thematerial evidently derived -Figure 3). However, it soonbecame clear that the existenceof a buried marine channel couldnot be determined purely fromsurface geology, although fieldmapping alone has been reliedupon in previous studies 11,12,13 .The only way of determiningwhether the Thinia rockfalls hadinfilled a former marine channelwould be to produce a 3-D view ofthe subsurface along the entirelength of the Thinia valley. Thisdemanded the drilling of apreliminary borehole and theuse of geophysical methodsand sampling to calibrate thesubsurface data.Figure 7: Diagnosed southern exit of Strabo’s Channel. Yellow, green lines - see Fig. 4. Red arrow - borehole drilled October 2006 at thesouthern limit of interruption (by rockfall and landslides) of a track that re-emerges 800m to the north (blue arrow). Background image:©Google Earth / Digital Globe.Figure 7 shows the location of atest drilling (October 2006) 4 .Although the borehole site wasbordered to the east and to thewest by bedrock limestone, thesurface material there consistsof loose rockfall runningnorth-south. The location sat107m above sea level (asl) and a122m borehole was drilled(i.e. to 15m below today’s sealevel) without encountering anysolid limestone.Significantly, the marine microfossilEmiliania huxleyi was foundadmixed with older, loose rockfallsediments within the top 40m ofFigure 8: Test Borehole. The upper image shows the borehole location relative to Figure 7; the lower diagram indicates the underlyinggeology.Fig 9bFig 9cFig 9d7

featureFigures 10a, b & c (shown to the right): Gravity survey results (lines and map) at Lake Katochori (for location see Figure 4).the drill hole. This single-celled phytoplankton(coccolithophore) could not have reached this location earlierthan about 6000 years ago, when rising global sea levelspenetrated the shallow Gulf of Livadi for the first time. So howdid this recent microfossil become embedded within looserockfall material 40m below today’s surface?One explanation could involve the chaotic intermingling of ahigh-volume rockfall with the waters of a confined marinechannel. Alternatively it could be that the wind-blown productsof a marine bloom had already been deposited on the prerockfallsurface and were subsequently incorporated into loosesediments during a rockfall. Whichever the explanation for itspresence, it is clear that rockfalls have indeed buried a substantialancient relief with sediments that must date from thelate Holocene.After drilling, gamma ray and resistivity were measuredthrough well logging. These were compared to cutting samplesand to onsite geomorphology. That integration enabled therelationship between the drill site and geology to be assessedaccurately and a cross-section to be constructed showing theunderlying strata at this location (Fig.8). The borehole drilledthrough 40m of rockfall material before encountering aMiocene marl boundary on the east of the diagnosed channelsidewall.In February 2007 the geotechnical, survey and geoscientificservice company Fugro became the project’s principal sponsor,which includes a Natural Environment Research Council(NERC)/CASE-sponsored PhD studentship based in theSchool of Geosciences at The University of Edinburgh. Thecollaboration has brought in substantial land, sea and airborneresources. A successful field campaign during in the secondhalf of 2007 has now generated much new, high-quality data.Field teams from Fugro and Edinburgh University haveconducted resistivity, seismic refraction and gravity surveys inImage left:Figure 12: Results of thehelicopter-borne survey resistivitydeployed over the Thinia isthmusand northern Paliki, based on ablend of all five frequenciesacquired and providing apenetration depth of up to90m below the surface.Background image©Google Earth / Digital Globe.Images right:Figure 13: (a) Remnant of buildingconveyed below Kourouklataby slope collapse.(b) Closeup shows part of abuilding constructed on a limestoneblock transported downslopeas rockfall. Photographs byJohn Underhill.8

featureFigures 11a and b: Fugro RESOLVE airborne electromagnetic survey systemon-site. A combination of five transmitter frequencies (400Hz, 1.8kHz,8.2kHz, 40kHz, 140kHz) was deployed to optimise coverage, with the higherfrequencies providing more detail but less penetration.key areas. The integration of these geophysical techniques hasafforded excellent resolution of the buried bathymetric profileof an ancient lake bed, termed Lake Katochori, lying to thewest of the proposed channel route (Figures 9 & 10). As aresult it has become clear precisely where to drill shallowboreholes in order to obtain a core from which radiocarbondating of the oldest sediment (i.e. from the deepest part) ofthe former lake can take place. If most of these sedimentsprove to be younger than c. 2200 years old, then this willsupport Strabo’s observations. If they are older, the hypothesiswill have to be reconsidered.Other gravity lines located across the eastern side of the valleyhave yielded some intriguing negative Bouguer anomalies.Although these seem consistent with the presence of a buriedchannel, there are currently insufficient data to make arigorous assessment. In addition to a follow-up gravity surveyplanned for the eastern area and a shallow drilling programmein Lake Katochori and infilled coastal plain areas, the nextland-based stage may involve acquiring seismic reflectiondata along and across the possible route of the buried marinechannel. Subject to results, the intention would be to drilladditional deep boreholes in the saddle of the valley, where theproposal is most severely challenged – namely at the narrowestboundaries and highest elevations. Radiocarbon dating of coresamples from these locations is expected to provide a definitiveassessment of the composition and age of the valley fill, downto sea level and below.Fugro Airborne Surveys of Canada have performed an aerialelectromagnetic survey of the Thinia valley using a multifrequencytransmitter/receiver attached via a cable to ahelicopter and flown at low altitude over Thinia and northernPaliki (Figure 11), producing detailed maps of resistivity andmagnetic susceptibility. Figure 12 maps near-surface groundresistivity measurements from this survey (which achieves asubsurface penetration of c.90m). Blue and dark green colours(resistive) correspond to limestone bedrock. Light green and9

featureyellow represent marl, conglomerate and loose rockfall. Orange and redrepresent conductive sea water or saline-saturated sediments. Uncolouredareas are villages that were not overflown. From this it is clear that the Thiniavalley consists mainly of low resistivity material (i.e. marl, conglomerate androckfall debris) down to at least 90 metres. However, because much of thecentral section of the valley stands higher than 90m asl., this is supportiverather than conclusive evidence as far as the theory is concerned.Fugro has also used its FLIMAP laser tele-altimetry technique to highlight areaswhere slope failure has occurred - especially where this is not always obviousfrom ground survey alone. FLIMAP provides helicopter-based photographicmapping and laser terrain elevation measurement, and as a result the projecthas access to an unprecedented array of digital maps, elevation models andphotographic imagery of the terrain, to an accuracy of a few centimetres. Thissupports field observations that catastrophic (probably co-seismic) failure ofthe western slopes has destroyed the walls of human settlements. Remnants offormer habitation (including houses with tiled roofs) occur within landslideslocated downslope (Figure 13). Such dramatic evidence of hillslope collapsemay enable us to assess not only the volume of mass wastage triggered, butalso its approximate date, using cosmogenic isotope dating techniques.It is hoped that Fugro NPA Limited’s field-based laser scanning (LIDAR) sitesurveys and satellite-borne Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar(INSAR) methods can be deployed as part of the project to quantify theseslope movements, which could potentially also provide input for early warningof slope instability.Fugro’s Italian-based marine subsidiary Oceansismica has conducted a detailedsurvey of the coastal waters both south and north of the Thinia isthmus, usingstate-of-the-art high-resolution marine seismic reflection and side-scansonar (Figure 14). This has generated a large quantity of marine data, currentlyundergoing interpretation. It has thus become possible for the first time toinvestigate not only the buried Holocene sediments, but also their basalunconformity and the Hellenide (Alpine) structures affecting the bedrockbeneath (Figure 15).High resolution analysis of the buried, sub-Holocene erosional surface(Figure 16b) has confirmed that the area of deepest marine bedrock is indeedaligned with the diagnosed southern exit of “Strabo’s Channel” (Figure 16a).The fidelity of the new data highlights the submarine structure and also thealignment between terrestrial and marine aspects of the supposed southernexit of the channel. Figure 16b shows how this coincides with the deepest areaof the seabed - not only in the N-S direction at the channel mouth, but alsowith the diagonal submarine reef structures on either side (shown in red).Figures 14a, b, c: Acquisition of the marine seismic survey to the south ofthe Thinia valley. Photographs by John Underhill.In other words, not only is there a U-shaped embayment in the submarinebedrock precisely at the channel’s supposed southern exit, but the diagonaldirection of the bedrock reefs on each side also aligns exactly with the erosionalfluvial outflow from the Thinia valley (dating from a time of lower globalsea-level, when marine waters had not yet entered the bay).Figure 15: Seismic reflectionline, Livadi Bay. Note buried,base-Holocene unconformityand previously undocumented,highly deformed (folded, thrustand erosionally truncated)Neogene strata beneath.Location - Fig 16a.10

featureFigures 16a, b: Mapsdepicting the depth to theBase Holocene in the Gulfof Livadi. These show theconsistency of outcomebetween (a) the previousregional survey and(b) Fugro Oceansismica’srecent high-resolution survey.The red line in (a) indicatesthe location of the seismicline in Figure 15. Backgroundimage in (b) ©Google Earth /Digital Globe.ConclusionsIt is not yet possible to state categorically that Strabo’s descriptionof the Thinia isthmus is confirmed by geoscience. However, theresults to date show that his account remains feasible. The airborneelectromagnetic survey, together with the precise alignmentof the marine bedrock at the channel’s diagnosed southern exit,are thought-provoking and clearly deserve further investigation.The massive scale of slope failure, rockfalls and landslides in theThinia valley provides a plausible explanation of why Strabodescribed this channel as ‘often’ rather than ‘always’ submergedfrom sea to sea, since any channel at this location would have beenperiodically interrupted by debris - both by rockfalls and by theerosion of the soft Miocene marl on its eastern side.The hypothesis would be refuted, however, if a buried land bridgeof limestone bedrock were encountered above sea level in a futurecritical borehole. The research priorities now are therefore tocore and date samples from sediments in the ancient LakeKatochori, which onlaps onto rockfall debris; to conduct morecomprehensive gravity and seismic reflection surveys of thediagnosed channel route, and (subject to these results) to drillone or more deep boreholes to below sea level from which coresamples can be extracted and dated.AcknowledgementsI would like to express my thanks to all those who have made thecurrent research possible and who are facilitating the next steps:IGME (Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration), Athens;Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens; Ministry of Culture, Athensand Kefalonia; Fugro NV, Netherlands; NERC (Natural EnvironmentResearch Council), London; Dimarcheion of Paliki,Kefalonia; Dimarcheion of Argostoli, Kefalonia; colleagues at theBulgarian Academy of Sciences; colleagues at the University ofEdinburgh; and my collaborators at Odysseus Unbound, RobertBittlestone and James Diggle. Kirsten Hunter, Greg Hodges andDavid Kilcoyne are acknowledged for their help in constructingFigures 9, 10 & 12.Forthcoming lecture & further informationJohn Underhill will present the latest results of this research atthe Geological Society, Burlington House on 2 October 2008 aspart of the Shell London Lecture Series. Details of this event andother news about the Odysseus Unbound project are provided atwww.odysseus-unbound.orgReferences1 Homer, Odyssey 9.19-26, interpreted by James Diggle atwww.odysseus-unbound.org/discovery.html2 Bittlestone, R., Diggle J., Underhill J.R. 2005. OdysseusUnbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca. Cambridge UniversityPress.3 Underhill, J. R. 2006. Quest for Ithaca. Geoscientist, 16 (9). pp.4-29. ISSN 0961-5628.4 Nield, T. 2007. Ithaca theory gains support. Geoscientist, 17(2). pp. 8-10. ISSN 0961-5628.5 Nield, T. 2007. Fair wind for Odysseus. Geoscientist, 17 (4).p. 11. ISSN 0961-5628.6 Jones, H. L. 1917–32. Strabo: Geography. Loeb Classical Library(Harvard University Press), Cambridge, Mass. Bittlestone et al. op.cit. pp. 51-52.8 This account of Thinia is a brief summary drawn from mydescription in Geoscientist 16 (9) above.9 Underhill, J. R. 1989. Late Cenozoic Deformation of theHellenide Foreland, Western Greece. Geological Society ofAmerica Bulletin 101, 613–34.10 Hewitt K., Clague J., Orwin J. 2008. Legacies of catastrophicrock slope failures in mountain landscapes. Earth-ScienceReviews 87 p. 33.11 Riemann, O. 1879. Recherches archéologiques sur les IlesIoniennes: ii Céphalonie. Thorin, Paris. p. 9: “This last suggestionseems quite extraordinary: there is not a single place onthe island where this could be true: the isthmus that Straboapparently describes would be that of Agia Kiriaki which joinsthe peninsula of Paliki to the main bulk of the island; but thisisthmus is more than 500 feet above sea level” (translatedfrom French and quoted in Bittlestone et al. op.cit. p. 380).12 le Noan, G. 2001. A la recherche d’Ithaque. Editions Tremen,Quincy-sous-Sénart. In chapter 10 the author provides anopinion from geologist D. Sorel that “Strabo’s description of apartially submerged isthmus appears impossible wherever onPaliki one attempts to locate it” (translated from French andquoted in Bittlestone et al. op.cit. p. 382).13 Maroukian H., Gaki-Papanastassiou K., Papanastassiou D.,Karymbalis E. 2006. The Geomorphological-Palaeogeographicalevolution of N.W. Kefalonia with special reference to the areabetween the Gulf of Argostoli and the Harbour of HagiaKyriake in the Upper Holocene Period. Faculty of Geology,University of Athens, unpublished paper (in Greek) for theAssociation of Ithakans Worldwide.11

Testing Classical EnigmasThis article by Professor John Underhill of Edinburgh University is published in Geoscientistmagazine Vol. 18 No. 9 (September 2008). Geoscientist is the monthly colour magazine of TheGeological Society of London, www.geolsoc.org.uk. By the kind permission of the Editor, Dr.Ted Nield, it is also available online at www.odysseus-unbound.org/news.htmlThe AuthorJohn Underhill has been a Geological Society Fellow since 1982, an AAPGDistinguished Lecturer and Matson Award recipient and an EAEGDistinguished Lecturer Award winner on two occasions. He holds a BSc inGeology from Bristol University and a PhD from the University of Wales.He worked for Shell International for five years before joining theUniversity of Edinburgh in 1989, where he holds the Chair of Stratigraphy.He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His primary researchinterest lies in the use of geological fieldwork and geophysical methods toinvestigate the structure and stratigraphy of sedimentary basins. He has beeninvestigating the geology of the Ionian Islands of western Greece since1982. In his spare time John also refereed football matches to the highestdomestic and international (FIFA) level.The Odysseus Unbound projectThe award-winning book about this project is called Odysseus Unbound:The Search for Homer’s Ithaca (Robert Bittlestone, James Diggle and JohnUnderhill: Cambridge University Press 2005, ISBN 0521853575). Furtherinformation about the progress of current research in Kefalonia is availableat www.odysseus-unbound.orgSponsorship by FugroA major research partnership was announced in March 2007 betweenFUGRO (provider of geotechnical, survey and geoscience services), theauthors of Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca and IGME(Greece’s geological institute). Further details are available atwww.fugro.com and at www.odysseus-unbound.org/sponsorship.htmlLondon Lecture, October 2 2008“Where was Odysseus' homeland? The geological, geomorphological andgeophysical evidence for relocating Homer’s Ithaca.”Shell London Lecture by John Underhill at the Geological Society ofLondon, Burlington House, London W1J 0BG.Additional lectures are planned for 2009. For further details refer to:www.odysseus-unbound.org/events.html

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