Western Australia hit by prehistoric tsunamis

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami devastated coastal communities around the Indian Ocean and left people asking what are the risks of future tsunamis and super storms? The answers can be found, at least in part, in the prehistory of coastlines.


Anja Scheffers’ research had already revealed that at least two tsunamis have hit the west coast of Australia in the last 7,000 years.

Anja analysed sediment from the Western Australia coastline to create a local history of storms. Credit: M. May, M. Engel and A. Scheffers
Anja analysed sediment from the Western Australia coastline to create a local history of storms. Credit: M. May, M. Engel and A. Scheffers

Then, with the support of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, she went on to unravel Western Australia’s stormy past by creating a precisely dated sediment record of prehistoric cyclones over the past 7,000 years.

Her reading of the coastal landscape is based on analysing beach ridge sequences, coastal boulder deposits, rock layers and sediments. It’s complex, painstaking and imperfect, but Anja believes that her combination of technologies can be used to create long local histories of storms.

She hopes that her work, at Southern Cross University, will help coastal communities around the world to identify tsunamis and cyclones that occurred in the past 7,000 years and to predict the future risk.

“One thing is for sure,” she says, “Western Australia has to be prepared for strong and even super cyclones in the future.”

With Anja’s insights on Western Australia’s stormy past, coastal communities and companies in the state may be able to better prepare for the unexpected.

For more information: Southern Cross University, Anja Scheffers, anja.scheffers@scu.edu.au, scu.edu.au/geoscience/index.php/61

#27 #28 #29 #30 #34 ARC_inline

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.