1979 Nice tsunami

On October 16, 1979: a landslide at the Nice Airport, an aseismic submarine landslide, and two tsunamis that struck the coast near Nice.

The two waves struck the coast between the Italian border and the town of Antibes (60 miles; 96 km).[1] They reached 3 m high near Nice and 3.5 m[2] at La Salis (Antibes) and decreased in amplitude from there.


The origin of these events has been a subject of academic and judicial debate.[3] A hypothesis said that it was the landslide at the Nice airport; the other, the underwater slide.[4]

In the first hypothesis, there was a 150 m3[5] slide off Nice airport while constructing the fill of a new airport, perhaps as a consequence of this work. This landslide would have caused the first tsunami. After that, the material of this slide would have caused the submarine slide that would have caused the second tsunami.[4]

In the second hypothesis, the major natural submarine landslide (~8.7 km2) that occurred offshore Nice caused a tsunami which would have caused a landslide of the fill of the new airport. This landslide caused another tsunami.[4]


It has been estimated that between 8[2] and 23[6] people died in these events.

At the construction work, the collapsing fill killed seven people.[2]

The tsunamis inundated a 20-mile section of the coast.[7] The water travelled up to 150 m inland.[2] The 11 people swept away in Nice and one in Antibes were presumed dead.[1] Economic damages were large.

The airport works were finished, but this event has precluded the construction of a new port for Nice.


  1. ^ a b Allaby, M. (2004). A Chronology of Weather. Infobase Publishing.
  2. ^ a b c d Sahal, A., & Lemahieu, A. (2011). The 1979 nice airport tsunami: mapping of the flood in Antibes. Natural hazards, 56(3), 833–840.
  3. ^ Lee, H. J., Locat, J., Desgagnés, P., Parsons, J. D., McAdoo, B. G., Orange, D. L., ... & Boulanger, E. (2007). Submarine mass movements on continental margins. Continental margin sedimentation: from sediment transport to sequence stratigraphy, 213–274.
  4. ^ a b c Seed, H. B. (1988). The landslide at the Port of Nice on October 16, 1979. Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California.
  5. ^ Nisbet, E. G., & Piper, D. J. (1998). Giant submarine landslides. Nature, 392(6674), 329–330.
  6. ^ Rana, S. V. S. (2007). Essentials of ecology and environmental science. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd..
  7. ^ Dudley, W. C., & Lee, M. (1998). Tsunami!. University of Hawaii Press.

Coordinates: 43°38′47″N 7°12′57″E / 43.6464°N 7.2157°E / 43.6464; 7.2157

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