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Could a 1755-like tsunami reach the French Atlantic coastline? Constraints from twentieth century observations and numerical modeling
Allgeyer, S.; Daubord, C.; Hébert, H.; Loevenbruck, A.; Schindele, F.; Madariaga, R. (2013). Could a 1755-like tsunami reach the French Atlantic coastline? Constraints from twentieth century observations and numerical modeling. Pure Appl. Geophys. 170(9-10): 1415-1431 .
In: Pure and Applied Geophysics. Birkhäuser: Basel. ISSN 0033-4553, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Tsunami hazard; Numerical modeling; Observations

Authors  Top 
  • Allgeyer, S.
  • Daubord, C.
  • Hébert, H.
  • Loevenbruck, A.
  • Schindele, F.
  • Madariaga, R.

    The tsunami generated by the 1 November, 1755 earthquake off the coast of Portugal affected mainly the coastlines of the Iberian Peninsula and Northwest Morocco, but was also observed in some places along the North Atlantic coasts. To determine whether the event could have effected the French coastline, we conducted a study to search for signs of the tsunami in historical records from all tide gauge stations off the French Atlantic coast during the twentieth century, specifically for the 28 February, 1969 and the 26 May, 1975 tsunamis that were recorded by the Portuguese tide gauge network. Because many recordings are available in La Rochelle (located on the southwest coast of France), we focused our study on this harbor. The analysis of the tide gauge data shows no evidence for tsunamis in La Rochelle, neither in 1969 nor in 1975. To confirm this lack of tsunami signals, we used nonlinear, shallow water equations to compute the tsunami propagation to the French Atlantic coastline for both 1969 and 1975 events. Results obtained from these simulations confirm otherwise unnoticeable wave amplitudes at La Rochelle harbor. In a second step, tsunamis from three different scenarios for the 1755 earthquake were modeled to estimate the impact of such a tsunami on the French Atlantic coast, with a focus on La Rochelle harbor. A comparison of the functions of tide configuration was made in order to analyse the difference in impact. The results show that, while the harbor is poorly impacted, several areas (western part of the island of Ré and northern coast of the island of Oléron) may have experienced a moderate impact from 0.5 to 1 m, especially since the tide was high at the time of arrival, possibly causing local inundations in lowland areas.

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