Flood of 1014

5 Oct 2017

Tom Whipple in The Times a couple of weeks ago had a piece on the flood of AD1014. I cut it out and came back to it yesterday with a few internet searches. Whipple said that according to medieval chronicler William of Malmesbury 'a wall of water reached an astonishing size such as the memory of many cannot parallel' (which sounds very much like a tsunami wave). In the autumn of 1014 people were drowned far inland, their homes inundated. In the Anglo Saxon Chronicle 'the great sea flood, which ran up as it never did before' is described in similar terms of a catastrophic storm surge of some kind. The flooding event occurred on September 28th 1014 - which just happens to be the eve of St Michael's Day. It has long intrigued historians as it does sound like a tsunami event. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 caused a tsunami wave in SW England - 3m high waves are recorded (above norm). However, there is no record of a major earthquake in 1014 - certainly not in Europe. That does not entirely exclude an earthquake - but makes it unlikely. This naturally led to a search for other causes - such as underwater volcanoes on Iceland. No evidence has been found which has led to the claim that an asteroid or meteor (a large one to avoid disintegrating in the atmosphere) struck somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and was responsible for creating a tsunami by displacing ocean water. Ice cores seem to show extraterrestrial deposits we are told at around that date and Mike Baillie refers to a single year strong blip in tree rings - in 1014. This is also the year the Vikings were defeated in Dublin and subsequently abandoned their island bastion - but the lost battle with the native Irish came in the spring (and the tsunami in the autumn). One can only speculate that the subsequent tsunami wave could have led to a complete abandonment of the Dublin colony by the Vikings - and the military defeat had weakened them considerably. Large numbers of them appear to have found refuge elsewhere, some of them in NW England.

Baillie described it as a mystery event with the offer of a field of research to other people who might be intrigued by the tree rings spike. Phil Teasdale of Brighton University appears to have risen to the challenge and has been looking for evidence in sediments laid down in various lagoon environments, estuaries, and marshland along the coast of southern England. He thinks he may have found signs of a tsunami at Marazion (a marshland zone) near Penzance, and in the Fleet lagoon (behind Chesil Beach in Dorset), mainly the appearance of oceanic plankton shells that could only have reached these places by a displacement of water from the Atlantic.

While the Vikings may have been moved to migrate due to a military setback rather than a tsunami one cannot say the same for the minifera shells. This requires dislodging and being thrown up on a land surface. However, see also https://therealmayanpropheces.com/1014-ad-impact-event-causes-atlantic-t... ... which is speculative. The idea is that a meteor strike in the Atlantic may have caused a tsunami wave to fan out in several directions - one of which may have travelled through the Caribbean to reach Mexico. Tsunami waves may only travel in one direction which would quickly disprove this theory but I suppose the idea is worth pursuing as Dallas Abbot of Columbia University discovered material in a marsh at Black Rock Forest in New York State, which sounds more promising. This dual wave theory would require a hit somewhere like the mid-atlantic ridge (which then behoves the question, why not an Icelandic volcano). The material dug up by Abbot's team is said to date around 1014 (so she was somebody else intrigued by the blip recorded in tree rings and ice cores). Abbot claimed that a meteor strike could have created waves that spread out in all directions and she drew a clear parallel between the wave recorded in England in the same year - before the more recent research of Teasdale. She also claimed to have found a tsunami deposit in the Lesser Antilles from roughly the same period (no exact date was possible). The link above to the Mayan Prophecies went on to claim a link with Aztec myth regarding the destruction of the Fourth Sun (which may refer to remoter history rather than 1014). Abbot on the other hand pointed a finger at an anomalous ammonium spike (also noted by Baillie)  found in Antarctic ice cores of the same date (or near enough). Ammonium spike also occurred in 1908 (the year of the Tunguska event) and at the same time as a meteor strike in Brazil in 1930 (or that is the allegation).

The Daily Mail has two stories on the subject - i) www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-4874804/Richard-Littlejohn-Great-Brit... ... and ii) www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4866692/Tsunami-caused-11th-cent...