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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Buchwal, A., Szczucinski, W., Strzelecki, M. & Long, A.J. New insights into the 21 November 2000 tsunami in west Greenland from analyses of the tree-ring structure of Salix glauca. Polish Polar Research. 2015;36:51-65.

Author(s) from Durham


We test the application of dendrochronological methods for dating and assessing the environmental impacts of tsunamis in polar regions, using an example of the 21 Novem− ber 2000 landslide−generated tsunami in Vaigat Strait (Sullorsuaq Strait), West Greenland. The studied tsunami inundated a c. 130 m−wide coastal plain with seawater, caused erosion of beaches and top soil and covered the area with an up to 35 cm−thick layer of tsunami de− posits composed of sand and gravel. Samples of living shrub, Salix glauca (greyleaf wil− low) were collected in 2012 from tsunami−flooded and non−flooded sites. The tree−ring analyses reveal unambiguously that the tsunami−impacted area was immediately colonized during the following summer by rapidly growing shrubs, whilst one of our control site spec− imens records evidence for damage that dates to the time of the tsunami. This demonstrates the potential for dendrochronological methods to act as a precise tool for the dating of Arc− tic paleotsunamis, as well as rapid post−tsunami ecosystem recovery. The reference site shrubs were likely damaged by solifluction in the autumn 2000 AD that was triggered by high seasonal rainfall, which was itself a probable contributory factor to the tsunami−gener− ating landslide.

Department of Geography