OR/14/063 Site assessment - ELC 24: Lochhouses

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Whitbread, K, Ellen, R, Callaghan, E, Gordon, J E, and Arkley, S. 2014. East Lothian geodiversity audit. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/14/063.
ELC_24: Lochhouses
Site Information
Location and Summary Description:

The site comprises a peat-filled depression in a gully system north of Lochhouses, 1.5 km north-east of Whitekirk, that contains sedimentary evidence for a tsunami associated with the Holocene Storegga Slide that occurred offshore south-west Norway around 8110 years ago. It is an important dated reference site for this event in south-east Scotland.

National Grid Reference:

Mid-point: 361415, 682176

Site type:
  • Natural landform
  • Sub-surface sediments
Site ownership: Not known Current use: Agricultural land
Field surveyors: John Gordon Current geological designations: None
Date visited: 24th October 2014 Other designations: None
Site Map
Figure 29    Lochhouses Location Map. Suggested site boundary includes the field boundary surrounding the landform in which the tsunami deposits are found.
Site Description

The site consists of two buried gullies that join to form a peat filled depression cut off from the coast by blown sand north of Lochhouses (ELC_24 P1).

Quaternary Deposits and Landforms
Sub-surface coring has revealed that the gullies and depression are infilled with up to nearly 5 m of peat and fine clastic sediment. Within the peat, a layer of sand c.30 cm thick contains marine and brackish-marine diatoms and damaged pollen grains (Robinson, 1982[1]; Smith et al. 2004[2]), indicative that the sand was washed inland. Four radiocarbon dates from the contacts of the sand with the peat place the accumulation of the sand within the timeframe of the Holocene Storegga Slide tsunami (c.8110 years ago). This huge submarine slide is the most recent of a number of slides in the Storegga area off the coast of south-west Norway. It occurred over an area of 95 000 km2 and involved the displacement of up to 3200 km3 of sediment (Haflidason et al., 2004[3]), generating a tsunami that impacted the eastern coast of Scotland from Shetland to the Borders (Smith et al., 2004[2]).

Access and Additional Information
Access is across farmland from Lochhouses.

Stratigraphy and Rock Types
Age: n/a Formation: n/a
Rock type: n/a
Assessment of Site: Access and Safety
Aspect Description
Road access and parking Access is via Lochhouses Farm.
Safety of access The site can be viewed from adjacent farm tracks.
Safety of exposure There is no exposure.
Access Access is via agricultural land.
Current condition Good.
Current conflicting activities The area is used for agriculture which is compatible with maintaining the interest.
Restricting conditions None evident.
Nature of exposure Sub-surface sediments accessible only by coring.
Assessment of Site: Culture, Heritage & Economic Value
Aspect Description
Historic, archaeological & literary associations n/a
Aesthetic landscape Near the coast.
History of Earth Sciences Evidence of tsunami hitting Scotland’s shores 8110 years ago.
Economic geology n/a
Assessment of Site: GeoScientific Merit
Rarity Quality Literature/Collections Primary Interest
Igneous/Mineral/Metamorphic Geology
Structural Geology
Geomorphology Regional Good Newey, 1965[4]; Robinson, 1982[1]; Shi, 1995[5]; Haflidason, 2004[3]; Smith et al., 2004[2] X
Site Geoscientific Value

Lochhouses is an important reference site for the Holocene Storegga Slide tsunami in south-east Scotland. A sand layer buried within peat provides sedimentary and dating evidence for the event.
Lochhouses is an important dated reference site for the Holocene Storegga Slide tsunami, with regional significance.

Assessment of Site: Current site usage
Community Not applicable.
Education Field use is principally as a research site.
Assessment of Site: Fragility and potential use of the site
Fragility The site is potentially sensitive to building development, tree planting, tipping, drainage and deep ploughing.
Potential use The site was first investigated in the 1960s and continues to have significant research value. There is also significant potential for virtual interpretation.
Geodiversity Summary
Lochhouses is an important research site for studies of the tsunami arising from the Holocene Storegga Slide around 8110 years ago.
Site Photos
Photo ELC_24 P1:    Lochhouses viewed from north. The key sediments lie beneath the gully (centre of photo). © John Gordon.


  1. 1.0 1.1 ROBINSON, M. 1982. Diatom analysis of early Flandrian lagoon sediments from East Lothian, Scotland. Journal of Biogeography, 9, 207–222.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 SMITH, D E, SHI, S., CULLINGFORD, R A, DAWSON, A G, DAWSON, S, FIRTH, C R, FOSTER, I D L, FRETWELL, P T, HAGGART, B A, HOLLOWAY, L K, and LONG, D. 2004. The Holocene Storegga Slide tsunami in the United Kingdom. Quaternary Science Reviews, 23, 2291–2321.
  3. 3.0 3.1 HAFLIDASON, H, SEJRUP, H P, NYGÅRD, A, MIENERT, J, BRYN, P, LIEN, R, FORSBERG, C F, BERG, K, and MASSON, D. 2004. The Storegga Slide: architecture, geometry and slide development. Marine Geology, 313, 201–234.
  4. NEWEY, W W. 1965. Post-glacial vegetational and climatic changes in part of south-east Scotland. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh.
  5. SHI, S. 1995. Observational and theoretical aspects of tsunami sedimentation. Unpublished PhD thesis, Coventry University.