Underwater landslide likely cause of ‘mild tsunami’ in UK

June 30, 2011UNITED KINGDOM  – A “mild tsunami” along the South West coast was probably caused by an underwater landslide, a coastal expert has said. The unusual tidal surge struck the Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Hampshire coastline on Monday morning. There were reports of rivers changing direction, fish leaping out of water and hair standing on end due to static. Dr Mark Davidson, from the University of Plymouth, said the surge was quite a “rare” occurrence. The first reports of the event came from St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Boatman Dave Ladner said: “The funniest thing was on the causeway all the ladies’ hair was standing on end with the static. “The sea on the eastern side was probably 8ins (20cm) to a 1ft (0.3m) higher than the rest and it was pouring over the causeway like a torrent rather than just a gentle meeting in the middle.” Roland Stewart from Millbrook, near Plymouth, said: “It was quite violent in a way, my dinghy was moving around with the movement of the water and I just wondered what the hell was going on….within 15 minutes it was all over.” Amateur video footage shot on the Yealm estuary, to the east of Plymouth, shows the surge. Bob Brown was launching his dinghy at the mouth of estuary at 1015 BST, an hour after low tide when he saw the wave. He said: “The tide was coming in from left to right, all of a sudden it stopped coming in from the sea and went back the other way. –BBC

More landslides: LYME Regis Coastguard Rescue Team was scrambled after two landslides in the Charmouth area last night (Wednesday) but fears that someone might have been hurt beneath the mud and rocks proved unfounded. A spokesman said a couple of falls were located east of Charmouth and in the Golden Cap area, one of which involved “significant movement.”  –Midweek Herald
This entry was posted in Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Landslide & geological deformation, Strange high tides & freak waves. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Underwater landslide likely cause of ‘mild tsunami’ in UK

  1. Texas Listening Post says:

    Does this under sea landslide raise a possible flag that the under the channel tunnel from UK to France might begin to be subjected to geological forces not previously known or anticipated? It would seem that any major tremor in the area of the tunnel could split it and hundreds would died in the tunnel. In the past two years we have seen, “It has never happen here before”. Are the British closely monitoring this area?


  2. Debbie says:

    Why the static electricity? Is that normal from tidal waves, albeit small ones?


  3. Jemma says:

    It’s the first time I’ve heard about anything like that round here, I would like to believe my government has put stringent measures in place should the euro tunnel breach severely but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was overlooked somehow. I would never of thought I’d read the words ‘tsunami and South W UK’ in the same sentence! Especially so soon! This is a great site, and I appreciate the post Alvin, one question I think you can help me with though; why the static electricity? It’s got me perplexed!

    Thanks again and God Bless all who come here. 🙂


  4. Debbie says:

    I also found this quoted from an unnamed researcher:

    “The ground gives off static electricity before an earthquake. In addition, increases in the intensity of the earth-currents (i.e., telluric currents) are considered one of the warning signs of an impending quake. This coincides well with the understanding that earth-currents are maintained by static electricity and the superconductivity of living things. The physiological effects on animals may also be due to air ions offsetting biochemistry (Serotonin Hyperproduction Syndrome). The outcome is that life, the components of the Earth-cell, is preserved. Like an organism with a damaged cell, an electrical message (nerve impulse) is sent, the cell is saved, and that which is damaging the cell (i.e., the city or disease) is destroyed.”

    Makes one wonder if what happened was a precursor to a bigger event…


  5. Dave says:

    This event is certainly not without precedent, thankfully the two previous tsunami events to affect the South West were not within living memory.
    “The Bristol Channel floods, which occurred on 30 January 1607, resulted in the drowning of a
    large number of people and the destruction of a large amount of farmland and livestock.
    Recent research has suggested that the cause may have been a tsunami.”

    Note in the below account the observation of electrostatic discharge from the wave:

    “Written evidence from the time describes events that were similar to those that unfolded in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, including a wave of water that rushed in faster than men could run, sparks coming off the top of the wave, a crowd of people who stood and watched the wave coming towards them until it was too late to run, and the sea receding before the wave arrived.”

    Also a triplet of 3 meter high tsunami waves triggered by the Great Lisbon Quake struck Cornwall on 1st November, 1755, causing “great loss of life and destruction of property” according to one 19th century account.

    Geologists have indicated the Lisbon fault responsible for that quake (which was a megathrust event, estimated magnitude of 9.0) is again under stress and will likely slip again in the not-too-distant future, though the waves would take around 4 hours before they hit the UK coastline. Hopefully time enough for evacuations, though if it occurred at night there could be untold casualties…



  6. Gwil says:

    There was just now – about 1hr30mins ago a 3.0 earthquake at 2km depth on the north coast of France – this may give some clue to the location of the underwater landslide.


  7. Ian says:

    @ Texas Listening Post – the builders of the Channel Tunnel were aware of the earthquake danger in this area, there are many secure places to refuge in the event of disaster or flood. I’m more concerned about railways and roadways under rivers and sea, eg San Francisco, New York etc


  8. luisport says:

    Off topic: Chile: Both Puyehue-Cordón Caulle and Planchón-Peteroa make the report this week. Puyehue-Cordón Caulle is the still very much in the news thanks to the ash that has spread across the southern hemisphere and is still causing problems with air travel. Of course, with any large eruption like this, there are the articles about how it might effect climate – and at this point, we just don’t know. The NASA Earth Observatory posted a thermal image of the summit area of the volcano and you can really see the small lava flow on the flanks of the volcano.

    Indonesia: While other volcanoes have made the news, Batu Tara (top left) has quietly been emitting as and briefly showing up on the Darwin VAAC as a potential hazard to flights over Indonesia. One of these days I will have to focus on Batu Tara, it might be another underappreciated volcano thanks to its almost constant low-level activity since 2007 – but not a lot is known about this lonely island volcano. GVP for
    22 June-28 June 2011
    New Activity/Unrest: | Ambrym, Vanuatu (SW Pacific) | Kirishima, Kyushu | Nabro, Eritrea | Puyehue-Cordón Caulle, Central Chile
    Ongoing Activity: | Batu Tara, Komba Island (Indonesia) | Fuego, Guatemala | Karymsky, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Kilauea, Hawaii (USA) | Kizimen, Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) | Planchón-Peteroa, Central Chile-Argentina border | Sakura-jima, Kyushu | Shiveluch, Central Kamchatka (Russia)


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