Scots experts to undertake study into threat posed to UK by tsunamis

SCOTTISH experts are to take part in a groundbreaking study to assess the threat posed to the United Kingdom by tsunamis which could be triggered by colossal underwater landslides in the Arctic.

• A tsunami triggered over 8000 years ago is believed to have left parts of Britain under 20 ft of water

• Evidence of this tsunami have been found in Montrose, the Firth of Forth and up to 50 miles inland

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

• Researchers expected to look into the probability and impact of a landslide-tsunami on Brtain

Some 8,200 years ago a tsunami caused by the “Storegga Slide” - a massive subsea landslide on the edge of Norway’s Continental Shelf - is believed to have left parts of the northern coastline of Britain under 20 ft of water.

In Scotland sediments deposited by the tsunami have been discovered in the Montrose basin, the Firth of Forth and up to 50 miles inland.

And now a team of scientists led by the Southampton-based National Oceanography Centre are embarking on a £2.3 million study, funded by he Natural Environment Research Council, to asses the threat which could be posed by further mega-slides over the next 100 to 200 years.

Experts from Aberdeen University are amongst the scientists from six other UK institutions involved in the four years project.

Dr Peter Talling, the project leader at the National Oceanography Centre, said: “This is the first extensive study to assess the probability and likely impact of a landslide-tsunami on the United Kingdom. It is timely as it has been proposed that climate change may be a factor that increases tsunami frequency significantly. This hypothesis is in need of careful testing.

“We have assembled a broad range of expertise to look at this issue and to produce findings which will have a significant influence on future decision-making on flood protection and resilience. We hope that the project will produce a step-change in scientific understanding about some of the most remarkable and largest natural events that occur on our planet.”

Dr Phil Newton, the Natural Environment Research Council’s Director of Science said: “NERC plays a leading role in the UK’s research into natural hazards, such as tsunamis which, although extremely rare, would have a serious impact on our communities and economy. Working with government and a range of partners and stakeholders this project will add an important dimension to the assessment of flood risk by building tsunamis into the framework, while leaving a legacy of expertise in this area.”