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Abstract

Tsunami catalogues provide important datasets in assessing the risk from infrequent but potentially high-impact events. Although the UK is located away from subduction zones (the most common origin of tsunamis), tsunamis have struck its shores, most notably those triggered by the prehistoric Storegga submarine landslide and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Since the major events of 2004 (Indian Ocean) and 2011 (Japan) tsunamis are in the public psyche, even if the risks to UK coasts are not. Due to this heightened awareness, many reported events are claimed to be tsunamis and the potential for tsunamis is increasingly included in risk planning; understanding the true frequency of tsunamis is therefore important. Within the UK, the evidence for tsunamis includes tide gauge readings, reported visual observations and interpretation of sedimentological features. Catalogues need to consider whether the event is a true tsunami in order to avoid a plethora of claims that confound risk assessments; for example, recent well-documented events generated by weather systems (meteotsunamis) provide a possible explanation for some historical events. A detailed examination of the impact of tsunamis upon the UK coast is provided, including examples of events triggered by the three primary causes of tsunamis: seismicity, submarine landslides and coastal landslides.

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