Do Large Submarine Landslides Occur Randomly?

The results of a recent study which analyses the timing of large submarine landslides have been published in the Journal of Geology. Submarine landslides can be far larger than those on land, and are one of the mostimportant processes for moving sediment across our planet. Landslides that are fast enough to disintegrate can generate potentially very hazardous tsunamis and produce long run-out turbidity currents that break strategically important cable networks. It is therefore important to understand their frequency and triggers.

Turbidite deposits resulting from the disintegration of large (>0.1 cubic kilometre) landslides indicate that the time between events is  near-random. This is the first study to look at large numbers (>100) of such deposits and indicates that sea level may not act as a strong dominant control on the timing of large landslides, as suggested by previous studies.

The paper is available online and was written by NOC Southampton researchers Mike Clare, Peter Talling, James Hunt, Peter Challenor and Giuseppe Malgesini.