Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1037–1046, 2011
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1037–1046, 2011

Research article 05 Apr 2011

Research article | 05 Apr 2011

Historical tsunami database for France and its overseas territories

J. Lambert and M. Terrier J. Lambert and M. Terrier
  • BRGM, 3 avenue Claude Guillemin, BP 36009, 45060 Orléans cedex 2, France

Abstract. A search and analysis of a large number of historical documents has made it possible: (i) to discover so-far unknown tsunamis that have hit the French coasts during the last centuries, and (ii) conversely, to disprove the tsunami nature of several events referred to in recent catalogues. This information has been structured into a database and also made available as a website ( that is accessible in French, English and Spanish. So far 60 genuine ("true") tsunamis have been described (with their dates, causes, oceans/seas, places observed, number of waves, flood and ebb distances, run-up, and intensities) and referenced against contemporary sources. Digitized documents are accessible online. In addition, so as to avoid confusion, tsunamis revealed as "false" or "doubtful" have been compiled into a second catalogue.

Both the database and the website are updated annually corresponding to the state of knowledge, so as to take into account newly discovered historical references and the occurrence of new tsunamis on the coasts of France and many of its overseas territories: Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, New Caledonia, Réunion, and Mayotte.