The 21 May 2003 Tsunami in the Western Mediterranean Sea: Statistical and Wavelet Analyses

Mohammad Heidarzadeh, Kenji Satake

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We report the statistical and wavelet analyses of the 21 May 2003 tsunami produced by an M w 6.8–6.9 thrust earthquake in the western Mediterranean Sea using 19 tide gauge records. The largest trough-to-crest wave height was 196 cm recorded at the Sant Antoni station in the lee of the incoming tsunami wave. Except at one station, the first wave was not the largest wave at all the analyzed stations, and the largest wave arrived several hours after the first arrival. In addition, the tsunami waves persisted for more than 1 day at most stations. As the spectra of coastal tide gauge stations are strongly influenced by topographic features, special care was taken here while interpreting the results of spectral and wavelet analysis. Our wavelet analysis shows that only a peak at around 23 min is persistent for long duration, and other peaks at 14, 30, 45, and 60 min appeared at short durations. The 23-min signal is possibly associated with the width of the source fault whereas the fault length contributed to the 45-min signal. Based on these dominant periods, the tsunami source dimensions are estimated as 95 km × 45 km. The statistical and wavelet analyses performed here provide some new insights into the characteristics of the tsunami that was generated and propagated in the western Mediterranean basin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449–1462
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2013


  • tsunami
  • coastal engineering
  • earthquake
  • construction
  • Mediterranean Sea


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