Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 227–240, 2011

Special issue: New developments in tsunami science: from hazard to risk

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 227–240, 2011

Research article 28 Jan 2011

Research article | 28 Jan 2011

Tsunami hazard at the Western Mediterranean Spanish coast from seismic sources

J. A. Álvarez-Gómez1, ĺ. Aniel-Quiroga1, M. González1, and L. Otero2 J. A. Álvarez-Gómez et al.
  • 1Instituto de Hidráulica Ambiental "IH Cantabria", E.T.S.I. de Caminos, Canales y Puertos, Universidad de Cantabria, Avda. de los Castros s/n, 39005 Santander, Spain
  • 2Dirección General Marítima, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Armada Nacional. Av. El Dorado CAN, Bogotá, Colombia

Abstract. Spain represents an important part of the tourism sector in the Western Mediterranean, which has been affected in the past by tsunamis. Although the tsunami risk at the Spanish coasts is not the highest of the Mediterranean, the necessity of tsunami risk mitigation measures should not be neglected. In the Mediterranean area, Spain is exposed to two different tectonic environments with contrasting characteristics. On one hand, the Alboran Basin characterised by transcurrent and transpressive tectonics and, on the other hand, the North Algerian fold and thrust belt, characterised by compressive tectonics. A set of 22 seismic tsunamigenic sources has been used to estimate the tsunami threat over the Spanish Mediterranean coast of the Iberian peninsula and the Balearic Islands. Maximum wave elevation maps and tsunami travel times have been computed by means of numerical modelling and we have obtained estimations of threat levels for each source over the Spanish coast. The sources on the Western edge of North Algeria are the most dangerous, due to their threat to the South-Eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and to the Western Balearic Islands. In general, the Northern Algerian sources pose a greater risk to the Spanish coast than the Alboran Sea sources, which only threaten the peninsular coast. In the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish provinces of Almeria and Murcia are the most exposed, while all the Balearic Islands can be affected by the North Algerian sources with probable severe damage, specially the islands of Ibiza and Minorca. The results obtained in this work are useful to plan future regional and local warning systems, as well as to set the priority areas to conduct research on detailed tsunami risk.