Palaeotsunami research is a relatively young discipline and while considerable progress has been made in identifying the evidence of past events there are still difficulties on occasion in differentiating between palaeotsunami and palaeostorm deposits. This has tended to focus debate on the similarities and differences between deposits laid down by the two differing processes at the expense of alternative hypotheses. Although coastal research in New Zealand a decade ago drew attention to high elevation coarse sediment deposits laid down by waterspouts, it was largely ignored by the research community. Re-analysis of a possible palaeotsunami deposit on a nearshore island in New Zealand, however, highlights the likelihood that this deposit, and perhaps many similar coastal ones, may have been laid down by waterspouts. In essence, the palaeotsunami–palaeostorm debate can no longer ignore waterspouts as an alternative hypothesis, but only time will tell how significant a contribution waterspouts have made to catastrophic coastal sedimentation.
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