It was long believed that the last tsunami to devastate the UK was 10,000 years ago caused by a massive underwater landslide know as the Storegga Slide – a massive wave was sent hurtling towards the Shetland Islands as well as parts of mainland Scotland, Norway and Greenland.
New research has revealed that the last tsunami to hit the UK was a lot more recent than anyone had realized.
Given how long ago this happened, scientists had long dismissed the disaster as something extremely rare, but now new evidence has been found to suggest that this may not actually be the case.
“We found sands aged 5,000 and 1,500 years old at multiple locations in Shetland, up to 13 meters (43 ft) above sea level,” said Sue Dawson from the University of Dundee.
“These deposits have a similar sediment character as the Storegga event and can therefore be linked to tsunami inundation.”
The discovery indicates that tsunamis can and do hit the UK on a much more regular basis.
“They’re much higher frequency, and 1,500 years ago is very, very recent – it’s 500 [CE] if you want to think about it like that,” said Dave Tappin from the British Geological Survey.
“It means that the hazard – the risk – is far more serious than we thought previously.”