Skip to comments.Giant Wave Hit Ancient Scotland
Posted on 09/07/2001 5:34:41 PM PDT by blam
Friday, 7 September, 2001, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Giant wave hit ancient Scotland
By BBC News Online's Helen Briggs
A giant wave flooded Scotland about 7,000 years ago, a
scientist revealed on Friday.
The tsunami left a trail of destruction along what is now the eastern coast of the country.
It looks as if those people were happily sitting in their camp when this wave from the sea hit the camp
Professor David Smith, Coventry University Scientists believe a landslide on the ocean floor off Storegga, south-west Norway, triggered the wave.
Speaking at the British Association Festival of Science in Glasgow, Professor David Smith said a tsunami could strike again in the area but the probability was extremely unlikely.
Radiocarbon dating of sediments taken from the coastline of eastern Scotland put the date of the event at about 5,800 BC.
At the time, Britain was joined to mainland Europe by a land bridge.
Settlers at the time would have had little warning of the disaster, scientists believe. But a scattering of tools found in the sand at a hunting camp in Inverness yields some clues.
"It looks as if those people were happily sitting in their camp when this wave from the sea hit the camp," Professor Smith of the department of Geography at Coventry University told BBC News Online.
"We're talking about two, three or four large waves followed by little ones, that would have been 5-10 metres high.
"These waves do strike with such force that they are very destructive," he added. "It's like being hit by an express train."
The research provides an opportunity to assess the hazard of tsunamis in more detail.
They occur frequently in the Pacific Ocean due to underwater earthquakes, landslides and volcanic explosions.
Long, uncertain history
Scientists hope to find more evidence of similar past tsunamis in eastern Scotland to predict the frequency of the destructive waves.
Studies of coastal sediments show that it may be possible to develop a record of past tsunamis extending back several millennia.
Dr Ted Nield, of the Geological Society of London, said: "These events have a long and uncertain time scale.
"While there is no reason for mass panic, the possibility exists that the Storegga slide will go again, and it would be imprudent to ignore that fact."
The giant waves which periodically wreak havoc on coastal communities around the Pacific are commonly called tidal waves.
In fact they have little to do with tides and are more properly called tsunami - a Japanese term meaning harbour wave.
They are caused by seismic shocks under the ocean.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or landslides on the sea bed can produce a type of wave which travels thousands of kilometres at high speed, and causes massive destruction when it reaches shore.
Tsunami differ from ordinary, wind-generated waves in that they can be almost imperceptible out on the open ocean, with typical heights of less than one metre. Most occur in the Pacific.
When a massive tsunami hit Japan at the end of last century, killing thousands, fishermen 20 miles out at sea failed to even notice the wave as it passed underneath their boats at a height of less than half a metre.
Tsunami typically have distances of several hundred kilometres and intervals of up to an hour between waves, unlike normal, wind-driven waves which are usually separated by intervals of seconds.
These characteristics mean tsunami travel at speeds of hundreds of kilometres per hour - as fast as a jet airliner.
As they approach shallower water near the coast, they are slowed down, which causes them to move closer together and to rise in height.
They can reach heights of 200 feet (61 metres) when they arrive on shore, with speeds of 150 miles per hour (241 kph), producing huge destructive force. Warnings
Tsunami waves are difficult to detect, and warnings have often proved unreliable.
One early signal is the detection of any earthquake on the ocean floor over magnitude 6.5 on the Richter scale.
The first sign for people on the coast of an incoming tsunami is often a sudden outrush of water, exposing the sea bed offshore and leaving boats stranded.
This is followed after a few minutes by a series of huge waves which rush inland, the largest of which is usually between the third and the eighth to arrive.
Because of the speed at which the waves travel, it can be assumed that anyone on the shore who sees one approaching is unlikely to survive to tell the tale.
One more reason not to go camping.
The theory I like best on that is earthquake that caused the Mediterranean Sea to suddenly burst through into the Black Sea, flooding the then "civilized" world where cities existed.
It was about the same time period.
No. I think the source of "Noah's flood tale" is called the Bible.
When I was in Hawaii, a tour guide told us they could move up to 500 mph, and sometimes only a few feet high, but at that speed could do a lot of damage. Now I wonder if he was correct.
Could this be the source of the Noah's flood tale?
Yes!!! It was a recounting of a dream Noah had after drinking too much mead.
And the source of the Bible flood story is the Sumerian Gilgamesh story.