Characterisation of erosional features associated with tsunami terrains on rocky coasts of the Maltese islands

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

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    In recent years there has been a growing body of literature on depositional signatures associated with historic extreme waves on rocky coasts. Here, in the context of the Maltese islands, we place an innovative focus on evidence of erosional forms. The field evidence is concentrated along the NE flank of the islands at a topographically varied range of sites and up to an altitude of 13 m asl. A range of forms is broadly classified in terms of their morphologies and the forces responsible for their formation. Sockets, eroded scarps, scoured terrains, clifftop erosion scars, swept terrains and spillways are interpreted as consequences of overwashing of the landscape by an extreme wave or waves. These forms are shown to be controlled by flow intensity, topography and lithology, and especially rock bedding and jointing. They comprise the source areas for associated depositional evidence allowing transport paths to be estimated, and may significantly enhance the reconstruction of extreme wave events. It is likely that similar (and additional) erosional forms are present elsewhere in the Mediterranean domain, where comparable lithological and topographic situations are exposed to extreme waves.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2093-2111
    JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
    Issue number15
    Early online date20 Aug 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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