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article imageParts of Doggerland survived a tsunami that hit 8,000 years ago

By Karen Graham     Dec 1, 2020 in Science
A new study suggests that parts of Doggerland, the land that once connected Britain with continental Europe, survived the devastation of the Storegga tsunami that struck the coast of the North Sea more than 8,000 years ago.
People today are familiar with the devastating destruction caused by tsunamis. Two recent tsunamis come to mind: The 2004 Indian Ocean "Boxing Day’" and the 2011 Tōhoku (Japan) events, striking quickly and with little warning.
Tsunamis today have sparked interest in how people in the past responded to and survived these great walls of water, and other than the tsunami produced by the 1888 eruption of Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra, archaeology has been slow to take up the question, at least until recently.
In 2013  Solomon Islands were hit by a devastating tsunami after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake rattled...
In 2013, Solomon Islands were hit by a devastating tsunami after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the region
-, World Vision/AFP/File
This brings us to the Storegga tsunami (c. 8150 cal BP) and what happened to Doggerland. This event was caused by three underwater Storegga landslides and is considered to be amongst the largest known submarine landslides. They occurred at the edge of Norway's continental shelf in the Norwegian Sea, causing a megatsunami in the North Atlantic that reached heights of 20 meters (66 feet) above sea level.
As for what triggered the event, there is still debate. Some scientists think an earthquake may have caused the marine landslides and resulting tsunami, while others postulate rising sea levels from the glacial melt at the end of the last ice age played a part in submerging Doggerland.
Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 8 000 BC)  which provided a land bridge between Gr...
Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 8,000 BC), which provided a land bridge between Great Britain and continental Europe. (Norway has been excluded by the illustrator.)
Max Naylor
Parts of Doggerland may have survived
Doggerland was the name given to the landmass that had connected Germany and Great Britain 8,000-years ago. The landmass allowed early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers to migrate northwards, even at a time when sea levels were rising due to glacial melting.
Scientists have assumed the monster tsunami swept away Doggerland for good when it hit. However, a new analysis of the seabed and its sediments suggests that some parts of Doggerland survived the waves as a scattered archipelago of islands, according to The Guardian.
Excavated dwellings at Skara Brae (Orkney  Scotland)  Europe s most complete Neolithic village.
Excavated dwellings at Skara Brae (Orkney, Scotland), Europe's most complete Neolithic village.
Wknight94 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
This matters to a group of researchers from the United Kingdom and Estonia, who published their findings in the December 2020 issue of the peer-reviewed archeology journal Antiquity.
The researchers believe the remaining lands could have been a staging post for the first Neolithic farmers to settle in Britain thousands of years later, and they may still carry the archaeological traces of their early settlements, even if they are now under the sea.
Debris from damaged buildings is strewn across a road in Carita after the area was hit by a tsunami ...
Debris from damaged buildings is strewn across a road in Carita after the area was hit by a tsunami following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano
Ronald, AFP
The point is, further study of this ancient event could help in present-day planning for a similar event if it should take place today, now that the North Sea region has become more developed.
“If you were standing on the shoreline on that day, 8,200 years ago, there is no doubt it would have been a bad day for you,” said Vincent Gaffney, professor of landscape archaeology at the University of Bradford. “It was a catastrophe. Many people, possibly thousands of people, must have died.”
Reconstruction of a  temporary  Mesolithic house in Ireland; waterside sites offered good food resou...
Reconstruction of a "temporary" Mesolithic house in Ireland; waterside sites offered good food resources.
David Hawgood (CC BY-SA 2.0)
According to CTV News Canada, researchers also have found evidence that the tsunami, while reaching far inland for 25 miles (40 kilometers), would have concentrated its waters in valleys with dense forests and hills, leaving some areas untouched.
"Whilst some of the regions may have been permanently flooded, a significant area would have remained habitable for centuries to come," the study noted.
The study also notes that after 15 years of extensive mapping of the area, they were able to identify former river valleys and lakes across Doggerland and sink sedimentary cores deep into the seabed. One core sample taken from what is now the north coast of Norfolk at the Wash estuary actually shows sedimentary evidence of the flood.
More about Doggerland, mesolithic, storegga tsunami, sea level change, Archaeology
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