North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas

Tsunami Information Centre

Tsu-Memo: April 15, 1979, the Montenegro tsunami

Branimir Vučetić was maintaining his boat on the coast, while Luka Cvijetković and schoolboy Dusˇko Tripković were watching him.

When the earth shock, the student Vučetić grabbed the boy Tripković and they

found a shelter by the side of road edge. 

[…] They did not notice when a water wave 3 meter high came behind their backs. 

In a furious blast, the sea ‘‘swallowed’’ 50 m of road, but also the three of them. 

The whirl pulled them to the bottom, where the student Vučetić got caught by something hard. Somehow he managed to free himself and dived out where at the surface he found the boy Tripković and saved him from the certain death. Sadly, he could not help Luka Cvijetković. He saw him in a whirl for a moment, and later his body was found 2 km away’ (Većernji list 1979, of 21 and 22/04).

On the morning of April 15, 1979, at 08:20, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake occurred in the coastal area of Montenegro, at about 13 km depth, between the cities of Bar in the north and Ulcinj in the south. 

Due to the earthquake characteristics, favorable to trigger a tsunami, an initial sea level rise and subsequent withdrawal occurred on the coasts. The mareograph located at Bar in Montenegro (see attached image) measured a sea level change of 45cm (peak-to-peak). The sea level anomalies persisted for more than 24 hours. Local newspapers reported the tsunami effects along the Montenegro coast.

 The April 15, 1979 tsunami in Montenegro recorded by the Bar mareograph (Montenegro)

The tsunami was also recorded by the Dubrovnik mareograph with several centimeters of amplitude.

The tsunami waves crossed the Adriatic Sea, following the southern Adriatic trench and reaching the Italian coast.

Sea level changes due to the tsunami were also registered by the Bari harbor mareograph, in Italy, with an approximately 20-30-minute period (see figure). The sea level perturbation persisted at least for one day. 

Montenegro tsunami signal of April 15, 1979 recorded by the Bari mareograph, Italy

It's not unusual that instrumental measurements - recorded by the few tide gauges  operating in areas such as the Adriatic - exhibit limited sea level variations while, locally, the tsunami can reach higher runups, as described in the 2012 article by Pasarić et al. reported on top.


Pasarić, M., Brizuela, B., Graziani, L., Maramai, A., & Orlić, M. (2012). Historical tsunamis in the Adriatic Sea. Natural hazards61(2), 281-316.  

Article Source: