Tsunamis from submarine landslides

Tappin, David R.. 2017 Tsunamis from submarine landslides. Geology Today, 33 (5). 190-200.

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Most tsunamis are generated by earthquakes, with secondary, less frequent, mechanisms including subaerial and submarine landslides, volcanic eruptions and (extra-terrestrial) bolide impacts. Different mechanisms generate tsunamis with different magnitudes, travel distances and impacts. Submarine landslides had been mapped and studied for decades but records suggested that only a few had generated tsunamis, and that these were minor. It was not until 1998, when a slump on the seabed offshore of northern Papua New Guinea caused a tsunami wave up to 15 m high that killed over 2200 people, was the significance of submarine landslides in tsunami generation realised. A combination of new (multibeam) seabed mapping technology and the development of improved numerical tsunami models for tsunami generation led to the recognition of the landslide tsunami mechanism of the PNG event. As a result the hazard from submarine landslides in tsunami generation is now recognized and better understood. Extensive mapping of ocean margins reveals that submarine landslides are common. Although many of these probably generated tsunamis, few have been identified, so their hazard remains uncertain. This article describes how the hazard from submarine landslide tsunamis was first recognized, how submarine landslides generate tsunamis, why they were previously discounted as a major hazard, and their potential hazards. An important aspect of the recognition of the tsunami hazard from submarine landslides has been the significance of geology, which has contributed to a subject previously dominated by seismologists.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0266-6979
Additional Keywords: tsunami, submarine landslides
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 13 Jul 2018 12:55 +0 (UTC)

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