Paolo Antonio Pirazzoli passed away

Some days ago, Paolo Antonio Pirazzoli, former Director of CNRS (French Center for Scientific Research, Meudon, Paris) passed away, at the age of 78.

Paolo is broadly known for his exemplary collection and analysis of Holocene coastal changes in a global scale, but he was involved in various other studies, including the study of surges, critical among others for Venice, his birth town.

However, above all, Paolo will be remembered as the scientist who transformed micro-morphological and micro-biological observations of coastal change into accurate vertical displacements, rapid (co-seismic), slow, or even transient (fluctuations), and which can be precisely dated.
This success was a result of cooperation with the late marine biologist Professor Jacques Laborel and specialists from various other disciplines (petrography, radiocarbon analysis, etc.) which permitted to understand the variable impact of water energy in the coastal biological zoning, and the distribution of various floral and faunal species in the zoning of each site. Comparison of current and of fossil biological zones, as well as anomalies in these zones, were then transformed into sequences of tectonic movements, occasionally very complicated (sequences of uplift and subsidence on which a climatic signal is superimposed).

This methodology, combined with restless field work and laboratory analyses, permitted for example to change our view of the earthquakes in the Mediterranean. Instead of a gradual uplift of Crete assumed so far, Paolo and his colleagues documented eleven "steps" of small tectonic subsidence in a period of 2,500 years, followed by uplift of up to 9m, subsequently assigned to the AD365, magnitude 8.5+ earthquake.

Paolo's work, summarized in numerous articles and several books, covers most continents and various tectonic and physiographic environments and represents a benchmark is coastal research and in active coastal tectonics. Most intriguing, many of his observations and results are awaiting modeling.

Stathis Stiros, who had the privilege of working closely with PA Pirazzoli for many years.

Who was Paolo Antonio Pirazzoli