145 million years ago Scandinavia was hit by a tsunami, probably more intense than the one that hit Southeastern Asia in December 2004. Traces of this ancient tsunami are still left and these have been discovered by the geologists Vivi Vajda and Jane Wigforss-Lange at Lund University. The scientific results will soon be published in the journal Progress in Natural Science.
The site is located at Eriksdal, in the southernmost province of Sweden, Skåne. Scandinavia and the Baltic formed a continent 145 million years ago, around the Jurassic-Cretaceous transition. The coast line cut through Skåne and the area around Eriksdal was a delta environment. At this time Sweden was situated at the same latitude as the Mediterranean of today and the climate was globally warm, not even the poles were ice capped. In Scandinavia tree ferns, gingkoes and cycads were thriving and the fauna was dominated by dinosaurs. The coast was inhabited by sharks, crocodiles and tetrapods (now extinct giant amphibians).
The 30 metre thick section in Eriksdal is hid in a farmland and can only be accessed by extensive digging and the sediments are tilted so the layers are vertical. In the sediments we found fossils of fish, mussels, snails mixed with landplants, says Vivi Vajda. We first interpreted these beds as storm deposits but microscopical samples revealed a total mix of pollen, plant fragments and fungal spores both within the shellbed and just above, signs that indicate that material from land was transported by the same wave as the one causing the accumulation of the shell bed. Besides, the mussels and the snails were extremely well preserved indicating a single depositional event and not a storm, which would have left the shells broken and eroded. We started to suspect that a tsunami had hit the area but we didn’t have enough evidence at the time to put the theory forward.
Göran Frankel | alfa
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