60ft tsunamis could threaten UK – caused by underwater landslides
Britain may be under threat from devastating tsunamis caused by huge underwater landslides, according to scientists.
Coastal towns, shipping terminals and nuclear power station, Hinkley Point , could be be pummelled by ocean waves if underwater land suddenly shifted near Britain.
Scientists from Durham University have discovered such landslides near the country’s coast are happening far more often than first thought.
In the last 20,000 years, there have been six huge land movements north of Britain.
A tsunami wave around 20 metres high hit Shetland around 8,200 years ago, caused by the massive Storegga landslide, which saw a chunk of sediment the size of Scotland break away from the sea bed and roll downhill.
Cornwall was also hit by a 10ft tsunami in 1755, after an earthquake in Portugal.
Known as the ‘Lisbon earthquake’, the waves generated by the land shift took four hours to reach the UK, devastating parts of the south west of England.
Reports from the time suggest a total of three huge waves slammed into the UK’s coastline, even travelling as far as western parts of Ireland and up London’s River Thames.
In 1929, a tsunami wave measuring around 19ft struck the south coast once again, including tourist beaches at Worthing, Brighton and Folkestone.
The enormous waves were thought to be generated by a line of thunderstorms raging in the English Channel.
While larger tsunami waves have been officially recorded, this new research suggest a number of smaller, less powerful tsunamis have landed on the UK’s coastline within the last 5,000 years.
Globally, such natural disasters have wiped out entire communities.
In 2011, an earthquake off Japan caused a catastrophic 130ft wave that killed 16,000 people .
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake triggered a tsunami that left 230,000 people dead across Indonesia .
Scientists studying the sea bed around Britain have now found further evidence of similar land shifts, implying Britain has been hit by tsunamis more often than first thought.
The team of researchers, led by Professor Peter Talling, are now urging the government to add tsunamis to the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies.
The register, held by Cabinet Office, outlines government plans for national disasters such as major flu epidemics and severe flooding.
Marine biologist Professor Talling, said: “We believe the government should consider adding tsunamis to the National Risk Register.
“The Storegga landslide caused a tsunami 20 metres high in Shetland and 11 metres high in Norway.”
Researchers, working on the Landslide Tsunami Consortium, a £2.3 million study backed by the National Environmental Research Council, spent weeks at sea collecting samples from the sea bed north of Scotland.
Further research found evidence of similar historic landslides in the Irish Sea, which could have threatened coastal areas of Wales.
Another underwater landslide sent a huge wave up the Bristol channel in 1607, hitting the location of EDF’s new nuclear power station, Hinkley Point.
Tsunami warnings could help the energy supplier protect its twin nuclear reactors, meaning the government would have to recognise tsunamis as an official threat to the UK.
Professor David Tappin, from the British Geological Survey, said: “If you plan for such events before you start building, you can protect against them.”
Courtesy of mirror.co.uk