Earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear power in the Bristol Channel

Posted on 5 December 2011

Professor Simon Haslett and BBC weatherman David Blaine on location at Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station

Following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, and the impact on nuclear power facilities, coastal communities around the world are re-evaluating the potential risk from tsunami hazard.

Professor Simon Haslett, Dean of STEM at the University of Wales, is a tsunami expert and contributed scientific advice to the media as the disaster in Japan unfolded earlier in the year. He is due to feature in the BBC1 Inside Out programme on Monday 5th December discussing the tsunami risk to Britain and its nuclear power facilities.

As Professor of Physical Geography, Simon’s research has focused on the cause and impact of coastal flooding events around the British Isles.

Although the coastline of Britain has experienced few large tsunami some have occurred, such as tsunami generated by a large prehistoric undersea landslide off the coast of Norway that sent waves 25 m high south to hit Scotland and northeast England, and a tsunami spawned by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that was around 3 m high by the time is struck southwest Britain.

Professor Haslett has investigated a flood in 1607 that inundated lowlands along 540km of the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary coast, killing approximately 2000 people and causing much damage.

The source of the 1607 flood is disputed, many consider that it was caused by a storm surge, but Professor Haslett said that “there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the 1607 flood may have been due to a tsunami”.

Evidence to support the tsunami theory of the 1607 flood has been collected and published by Professor Haslett and his co-workers, but evidence of a trigger for a tsunami has been elusive.

In a new article, Professor Haslett presents evidence for two earthquakes occurring in 1607, suggesting this was a seismically active period, which he discussed with BBC weatherman David Blaine (pictured) during the filming of the upcoming BBC1 programme.

Professor Haslett explains:

“This new evidence may have relevance for future planning and risk management of nuclear power facilities in the Bristol Channel, which is currently the location of the Hinkley, Oldbury, and (now decommissioned) Berkeley nuclear power stations.”


For further details of Professor Haslett’s research on this topic visit  

Details of the BBC1 Inside Out programme may be found at:  


Search News

Select Category

Related Articles