Tsunami risk in western Mediterranean is determined by the exposure of Spanish, Moroccan and Algerian coasts to two different seismic areas - the Alboran sea and the Atlas belt in north-western Algeria - by the high population density – mostly in Spain and Algeria - and by the importance of coastal tourism infrastructure in Spain.
A recent article “tsunami hazard at the western Mediterranean Spanish coast from seismic sources” published on Natural Earth Science, analyses the potential tsunami sources close to the Iberian Peninsula and identifies the areas where the impact of a tsunami would be greater. The tsunami threat over the Spanish Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands was estimated reviewing 22 possible tsunami sources, compiling maximum wave elevation maps and calculating tsunami travel times through numerical modelling.
Regional maximum wave elevation maps for the worst tsunamigenic source of the Alboran Sea and for the northern Algerian sources for the south-eastern Iberian Peninsula. The colour shading varies with the maximum wave elevation as shown in the colour scale.
In general – the article reports - the northern Algerian sources resulted to pose a greater risk to the Spanish coast than the Alboran Sea sources. Tsunamis generated in northern Algeria, would affect the provinces of Almeria and Alicante, and especially the islands of Ibiza and Formentera with probable severe damage. The province of Almeria is at a high risk of being affected by a tsunami because it can be reached by virtually all sources of the Alboran Sea and the North West of Algeria.With reference to a possible Mediterranean Fukushima, the first conclusion that we may draw from the reserach is that the Vandellòs Nuclear Power Plant situated very close to the sea near Tarragona lies in a quite low tsunami risk area. Although for properly evaluating the tsunami risk along the coast of Catalonia, also the scenario of the 1373 earthquake in the Central Pyrenees-Catalonia region along with its associated tsunami in Barcelona should be evaluated.
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