Original paper

Extreme wave events in the central Mediterranean: Geomorphic evidence of tsunami on the Maltese Islands

Mottershead, Derek; Bray, Malcolm; Soar, Philip; Farres, Paul J.


Field evidence from the Maltese Islands is presented of extreme wave activity in the central Mediterranean Sea. An extensive range of extreme wave signatures, both erosional and depositional, is here presented for the first time and indicates a wave attack from the NE. Existing models of runup and boulder detachment imply that the extreme wave signatures lie beyond the capabilities of storm waves. These considerations, taken together with the range of evidence available, point toward tsunami as the agency responsible, which is consistent with the evidence from Mediterranean marginal coasts opposed to the Maltese Islands. Evidence from existing boulder detachment, tsunami runup and wave velocity models suggests that tsunami with shoreline wave height of up to ∼4 m, and with local velocities of >10 ms–1 would have been required in order to form the signatures observed.