In the wake of the wake. An investigation of the impact of the Storegga tsunami on the human settlement of inner Varangerfjord, northern Norway
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AuthorBlankholm, Hans Peter
The Storegga tsunami (8175-8120 cal. BP, Bondevik et al., 2012) has often been described as a catastrophe spelling major disaster and demographic decline for the people in the danger zone. More nuance is needed if we are to understand the effects. Most studies have had a supra-regional or regional character; less effort seems to have put into studies at the sub-regional level. The Norwegian coast, for example, is a topographic, bathymetric and environmental mosaic and the sub-regional and local effects must surely have been different. This paper discusses the possible effects of the Storegga tsunami on the human settlement of inner Varangerfjord in northern Norway some 2000 km from the point of origin. Central to the discussion are the questions of: a) actual presence of people at the time of the event, b) safe altitudes above sea-level for settlement, c) the geological record and the compounding effects of the Tapes transgression, d) the archaeological record, and e) the combined effects of the Storegga tsunami and the 8200 cal. BP cold event and hunter-fisher-gatherer resilience. It is concluded that 1) the vertical run-up of the Storegga tsunami in inner Varangerfjord probably was 2 m or less, 2) the impact of the 8200 cal. BP cold event on the ecology of Finnmark was relatively weak, and 3) the combined effect of both on human life probably was minor given a high degree of resilience among the population.