Tsunami threat to Britain far more serious than scientists originally thought

A devastating tsunami some 8,000 years ago sent a 65-foot high tsunami racing towards the coast of what is now Scotland.

A 370-mile stretch of Scotland’s northern and eastern coastline was affected, with water and debris reaching as far as eighteen miles inland.

The wave of destruction is considered the largest natural disaster to hit the UK in the last 11,000 years.

With present-day populations and sea levels, a similar event today could cause widespread devastation in coastal areas of Arbroath, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Inverness, Wick, and Montrose

But scientists now say that the tsunami, caused by an undersea landslide in an area called Storegga just off the Norwegian coast, may not have been a one-off.

Researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland have found evidence of two additional tsunamis, each at least 40ft high, thousands of years after the Storegga Slide.

Professor David Tappin of the British Geological Survey told the BBC that tsunamis: “are much higher frequency, and 1,500 years ago is very, very recent — it’s 500 AD if you want to think about it like that.

“It means that the hazard — the risk — is far more serious than we thought previously. And so what we’re trying to do now is better define it.”

A research paper published in Wiley’s Online Library, used luminescence to date sediment deposits left behind by the Storegga tsunami at a site of Maryton in Aberdeenshire.

Dr Sue Dawson from the University of Dundee told the university’s website in 2018, as part of the Landslide-Tsunami project: “We found sands aged 5,000 and 1,500 years old at multiple locations in Shetland, up to 13m above sea level.

“These deposits have a similar sediment character as the Storegga event and can therefore be linked to tsunami inundation.”

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The discovery triples the number of known tsunamis recorded in the UK in the last 10,000 years.

The Storegga even has been thoroughly investigated as part of the preparation activities for the Ormen Lange gas field off the coast of Norway.

Researchers currently believe that drilling for gas in the region would be “unlikely” to trigger a similar event today.

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