PICCARDI, Luigi, C.N.R, Centro di Studio dell’Appennino e delle Catene Perimediterranee, Via G. La Pira 4, Firenze 50121 Italy,

A multidisciplinary study reveals close correspondences between mythological descriptions, arrangement of the cult-sites and local active faults in ancient Greece (Piccardi, 2000a and 2000b). Chthonic dragons, mostly feminine polymorph creatures, were also indicated at many of these special sacred places, and their lairs are located directly above major active faults (Piccardi, 2000c). The veneration of these places might have been a consequence of the observation of peculiar natural phenomena, such as gas and flames emissions, underground roaring, ground shaking and ground ruptures. Maybe this coincidence is simply circumstantial in the East Mediterranean due to the abundance of myths in such a highly seismic region. However, it can likewise be observed in areas less active seismically, and with different mythologies. Scotland, for example, is famous for its modern myth of the Loch Ness monster, affectionately called Nessie. Known to derive from a primitive cult of the water-horse, sacred to the Picts, its first written mention appears in Adomnan's ‘Life of St. Columba’ (7th century AD). In the original Latin description the dragon appears "cum ingenti fremitu" (with strong shaking), and disappears "tremefacta" (shaking herself), which seems to point to a telluric nature of the monster living in the lake. In fact, Loch Ness is positioned directly over the fault zone of the most seismic sector (for example the M=5 earthquake of 18.09.1901) of the Great Glen Fault, the major active fault in Scotland. In this light, many modern eyewitness reports attributed to Nessie may find a simple natural explanation.

Piccardi L., 2000a: Active faulting at Delphi: seismotectonic remarks and a hypothesis for the geological environment of a myth. Geology, 28, 651-654. Piccardi L., 2000b: Adoration of active faults in the East Mediterranean region. 31st I.G.C., Brazil, August 2000. Piccardi L., 2000c: Mythology of active faults: the dragon's lair. 1st Stephan Mueller Conference, E.G.S., Israel, June 2000.

Earth System Processes - Global Meeting (June 24-28, 2001)
Session No. G5
Public Communication of Environmental Issues and Hazards (Posters)
Edinburgh International Conference Centre: Poster area
4:30 PM-6:00 PM, Wednesday, June 27, 2001