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Friday, 21 April 2017

The 1607 tsunami in the Bristol Channel


The TV prog last night about the 1607 tsunami was quite well done -- but it was really a 30 minute programme stretched out interminably, presumably on the basis that the director, having made lots of spectacular clips of drowning peasants, smashed-up buildings,  dead cows and giant waves,  could not resist getting his money's worth by showing all of them at least a dozen times.

Anyway, that wasn't Prof Simon Haslett's fault,  and the info presented was really quite convincing -- through documentary sources, historical evidence of peak water levels, coastal stratigraphy and oceanographic modelling.  The evidence is compelling that this was really a tsunami and not just a storm surge coinciding with an exceptionally high tide.  I liked the way that Simon Haslett and his colleague worked through the evidence systematically and drew perfectly reasonable conclusions from it.

This is not new news, and I think I might even have seen this programme before -- or at least parts of it........

Today I checked with Simon, and he confirmed that shells collected from the sand layer (the tsunami layer) in coastal exposures were too young for reliable C14 dating -- as I had anticipated.  Shells and other materials only 400 years old are rather difficult to date accurately.

I'm not entirely convinced by the argument that the big blocks on the beach were all aligned by the force of incoming water, and I'd like to have a look at them........  And I'm not at all convinced that the rock platforms shown were cut by the tsunami -- to me they looked just like all the other raised beach platforms that are scattered around the coasts of SW Britain.

But those are minor points.

PS -- yes, I have seen it before!  I see now that this was first broadcast as a Timewatch documentary in 2005.

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