Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 170, Issue 9–10, pp 1449–1462 | Cite as

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

  • Mohammad HeidarzadehEmail author
  • Kenji Satake


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.


Mediterranean Sea 21 May 2003 earthquake tsunami tide gauge data statistical analysis wavelet analysis numerical modeling tsunami energy 



We thank the following institutions for making available the data used in this study: UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Puertos del Estado (Spain), and the European Sea Level Service. We are sincerely grateful to Dr. Belen Martin-Miguez (Centro Tecnologico del Mar Fundacion CETMAR, Vigo, Spain) for providing the tide gauge data for Palma and Sant Antoni stations. We thank Stefano Corsini from the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Rome, Italy for providing the Italian tide gauge records. The first author is sincerely grateful to Prof. Michael Tsimplis for holding useful discussions with him about the Mediterranean tsunamis. We sincerely thank Prof. Alexander Rabinovich (the editor) and two anonymous reviewers for their detailed reviews of this article.


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© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.Earthquake Research Institute (ERI)University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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