A devastating tsunami about 8,000 years ago sent a 65-foot-high tsunami surging towards the coast of what is now Scotland.
A 370-mile stretch of Scotland’s north and east coasts was affected, with water and debris reaching up to eighteen miles inland.
The wave of destruction is considered the biggest natural disaster to hit the UK in the past 11,000 years.
With current populations and sea level, a similar event today could cause widespread devastation in coastal areas of Arbroath, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Inverness, Wick and Montrose
But scientists now say the tsunami, caused by an underwater landslide in an area called Storegga just off the coast of Norway, 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 40 feet high, thousands of years after the Storegga landslide.
Professor David Tappin of the British Geological Survey told the BBC that tsunamis: “are much higher in frequency, and 1,500 years ago it is very, very recent – it’s 500 AD if you will. think about it like that.
“This means that the danger – the risk – is far greater than we previously thought. And so what we’re trying to do now is define it better.
A research article published in Wiley’s online library used luminescence to date sediment deposits left by the Storegga tsunami at a site in Maryton, Aberdeenshire.
Dr Sue Dawson of the University of Dundee told the university’s website in 2018, as part of the Landslide-Tsunami project: “We found 5,000 and 1,500 year old sands in several places in the Shetland, up to 13 m above sea level.
“These deposits have a sedimentary character similar to that of the Storegga event and therefore may be related to the tsunami flooding.”
The discovery triples the number of known tsunamis recorded in the UK over the past 10,000 years.
The Storegga has even been the subject of an in-depth investigation as part of the preparation activities for the Ormen Lange gas field off the Norwegian coast.
Researchers currently believe that gas drilling in the area would be “unlikely” to trigger a similar event today.