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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-01-11
    Description: Recent seafloor mapping around volcanic islands shows that submarine landslide deposits are common and widespread. Such landslides may cause devastating tsunamis, but accurate assessment of tsunami hazard relies on understanding failure processes and sources. Here we use high-resolution geophysical data offshore from Montserrat, in the Lesser Antilles, to show that landslides around volcanic islands may involve two fundamentally different sources of sediment (island-flank and larger seafloor-sediment failures), and can occur in multiple stages. A combination of these processes produces elongate deposits, with a blocky centre (associated with island-flank collapse), surrounded by a smoother-surfaced deposit that is dominated by failed seafloor sediment. The failure of seafloor sediment is associated with little marginal accumulation, and involves only limited downslope motion. Submarine landslide deposits with similar blocky and smooth-surfaced associations are observed in several locations worldwide, but the complex emplacement processes implied by this morphological relationship can only be revealed by high-resolution geophysical data. Such complexity shows that the volume of landslide deposits offshore of volcanic islands cannot simply be used in tsunami models to reflect a single-stage collapse of primary volcanic material. By applying predictive equations for tsunami amplitude to investigate general scenarios of volcanic island landslide generation, we show that the tsunami hazard associated with volcanic island collapse remains highly significant. Volcanic flank failures, even if relatively small, may generate large local tsunamis, but associated seafloor sediment failures, even if they have a much greater volume, have a substantially lower potential for tsunami generation.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2015-01-09
    Type: Conference or Workshop Item , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2015-01-12
    Type: Conference or Workshop Item , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-02-27
    Description: IODP Expedition 340 successfully drilled a series of sites offshore Montserrat, Martinique and Dominica in the Lesser Antilles from March to April 2012. These are among the few drill sites gathered around volcanic islands, and the first scientific drilling of large and likely tsunamigenic volcanic island-arc landslide deposits. These cores provide evidence and tests of previous hypotheses for the composition and origin of those deposits. Sites U1394, U1399, and U1400 that penetrated landslide deposits recovered exclusively seafloor-sediment, comprising mainly turbidites and hemipelagic deposits, and lacked debris avalanche deposits. This supports the concepts that i/ volcanic debris avalanches tend to stop at the slope break, and ii/ widespread and voluminous failures of pre-existing low-gradient seafloor sediment can be triggered by initial emplacement of material from the volcano. Offshore Martinique (U1399 and 1400), the landslide deposits comprised blocks of parallel strata that were tilted or micro-faulted, sometimes separated by intervals of homogenized sediment (intense shearing), while Site U1394 offshore Montserrat penetrated a flat-lying block of intact strata. The most likely mechanism for generating these large-scale seafloor-sediment failures appears to be propagation of a decollement from proximal areas loaded and incised by a volcanic debris avalanche. These results have implications for the magnitude of tsunami generation. Under some conditions, volcanic island landslide deposits comprised of mainly seafloor sediment will tend to form smaller magnitude tsunamis than equivalent volumes of subaerial block-rich mass flows rapidly entering water. Expedition 340 also successfully drilled sites to access the undisturbed record of eruption fallout layers intercalated with marine sediment which provide an outstanding high-resolution dataset to analyze eruption and landslides cycles, improve understanding of magmatic evolution as well as offshore sedimentation processes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2017-05-29
    Description: The northern part of the South China Sea is characterized by wide-spread occurrence of bottom simulating reflectors (BSR), indicating the presence of marine gas hydrates. Because the area covers both the tectonically inactive passive margin and the northern termination of the Manila Trench subduction zone while sediment input is broadly similar, this area provides an excellent opportunity to study the influence of tectonic processes on the dynamics of gas hydrate systems. Long-offset multi-channel seismic data show that movement along thrust faults and blind thrust faults caused anticlinal ridges on the active margin, while faults are absent on the passive margin. This coincides with high-hydrate saturations derived from ocean bottom seismometer data and controlled source electromagnetic data, and conspicuous high-amplitude reflections in P-Cable 3D seismic data above the BSR in the anticlinal ridges of the active margin. On the contrary, all geophysical evidence for the passive margin points to normal- to low-hydrate saturations. Geochemical analysis of gas samples collected at seep sites on the active margin show methane with heavy δ13C isotope composition, while gas collected on the passive margin shows highly depleted (light) carbon isotope composition. Thus, we interpret the passive margin as a typical gas hydrate province fuelled by biogenic production of methane and the active margin gas hydrate system as a system that is fuelled not only by biogenic gas production but also by additional advection of thermogenic methane from the subduction system. The location of the highest gas hydrate saturations in the hanging wall next to the thrust faults suggests that the thrust faults represent pathways for the migration of methane. Our findings suggest that the most promising gas hydrate occurrences for exploitation of gas hydrate as an energy source may be found in the core of the active margin roll over anticlines immediately above the BSR and that high-amplitude reflections in the seismic reflection data may be a good proxy for these targets.
    Type: Conference or Workshop Item , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2017-11-07
    Description: New high-resolution multichannel seismic data GWADASEIS-2009 and JC45/46-2010 cruises; 72 and 60 channels, respectively) combined with previous data(AGUADOMAR-1999 and CARAVAL-2002; 6 and 24 channels, respectively) allow a detailed investigation of mass-wasting processes around the volcanic island of Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles. Seven submarine deposits have sources on the flanks of Montserrat, while three are related to the nearby Kahouanne submarine volcanoes. The most voluminous deposit (∼20 km3) within the Bouillante-Montserrat half-graben has not been described previously and is probably related to a flank instability of the Centre Hills Volcano on Montserrat, while other events are related to the younger South Soufrière Hills-Soufrière Hills volcanic complex. All deposits are located to the south or southeast of the island in an area delimited by faults of the Bouillante-Montserrat half-graben. They cover a large part of the southeast quarter of the surrounding seafloor (∼520 km2), with a total volume of ∼40 km3. Our observations suggest that the Bouillante-Montserrat half-graben exerts a control on the extent and propagation of the most voluminous deposits. We propose an interpretation for mass-wasting processes around Montserrat similar to what has happened for the southern islands of the Lesser Antilles.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2017-08-08
    Description: During the current (1995–present) eruptive phase of the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat, voluminous pyroclastic flows entered the sea off the eastern flank of the island, resulting in the deposition of well-defined submarine pyroclastic lobes. Previously reported bathymetric surveys documented the sequential construction of these deposits, but could not image their internal structure, the morphology or extent of their base, or interaction with the underlying sediments. We show, by combining these bathymetric data with new high-resolution three dimensional (3D) seismic data, that the sequence of previously detected pyroclastic deposits from different phases of the ongoing eruptive activity is still well preserved. A detailed interpretation of the 3D seismic data reveals the absence of significant (〉3 m) basal erosion in the distal extent of submarine pyroclastic deposits. We also identify a previously unrecognized seismic unit directly beneath the stack of recent lobes. We propose three hypotheses for the origin of this seismic unit, but prefer an interpretation that the deposit is the result of the subaerial flank collapse that formed the English's Crater scarp on the Soufrière Hills volcano. The 1995–recent volcanic activity on Montserrat accounts for a significant portion of the sediments on the southeast slope of Montserrat, in places forming deposits that are more than 60 m thick, which implies that the potential for pyroclastic flows to build volcanic island edifices is significant.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2017-08-08
    Description: Landslides associated with flank collapse are volumetrically the most significant sediment transport process around volcanic islands. Around Montserrat, in the Lesser Antilles, individual landslide deposits have volumes (1 to 20 km3) that are up to two orders of magnitude larger than recent volcanic dome collapses (up to 0.2 km3). The largest landslide deposits were emplaced in at least two stages, initiated by the emplacement of volcanic debris avalanches which then triggered larger-scale failure of seafloor sediment, with deformation propagating progressively downslope for up to 30 km on gradients of 〈 1°. An unusually detailed seismic, side-scan sonar and bathymetric dataset shows that the largest landslide off Montserrat (forming Deposit 8) incorporated ~ 70 m of in-situ sediment stratigraphy, and comprises ~ 80% seafloor sediment by volume. Well-preserved internal bedding and a lack of shortening at the frontally-confined toe of the landslide, shows that sediment failure involved only limited downslope transport. We discuss a range of models for progressively-driven failure of in-situ bedded seafloor sediment. For Deposit 8 and for comparable deposits elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles, we suggest that failure was driven by an over-running surface load that generated excess pore pressures in a weak and deforming undrained package of underlying stratigraphy. A propagating basal shear rupture may have also enhanced the downslope extent of sediment failure. Extensive seafloor-sediment failure may commonly follow debris avalanche emplacement around volcanic islands if the avalanche is emplaced onto a fine-grained parallel-bedded substrate. The timing of landslides off Montserrat is clustered, and associated with the deposition of thick submarine pyroclastic fans. These episodes of enhanced marine volcaniclastic input are separated by relatively quiescent periods of several 100 ka, and correspond to periods of volcanic edifice maturity when destructive processes dominate over constructive processes. Highlights: ► Marine volcanic debris avalanche emplacement can lead to much larger sediment failure. ► Failure is progressive, through in situ-strata, and frontally non-emergent. ► Sediment failure propagates on very low gradients, dominating final deposit volume. ► Process involves undrained loading and/or shear rupture, and may be repeated widely. ► Landslide timing reflects timescales of volcanic edifice growth and destruction
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: Landslides are common features in the vicinity of volcanic islands. In this contribution, we investigate landslides emplacement and dynamics around the volcanic island of Martinique based on the first scientific drilling of such deposits. The evolution of the active Montagne Pelée volcano on this island has been marked by three major flank-collapses that removed much of the western flank of the volcano. Subaerial collapse volumes vary from 2 to 25 km3 and debris avalanches flowed into the Grenada Basin. High-resolution seismic data (AGUADOMAR-1999, CARAVAL-2002, and GWADASEIS-2009) is combined with new drill cores that penetrate up to 430 m through the three submarine landslide deposits previously associated to the aerial flank-collapses (Site U1399, Site U1400, Site U1401, IODP Expedition 340, Joides Resolution, March–April 2012). This combined geophysical and core data provide an improved understanding of landslide processes offshore a volcanic island. The integrated analysis shows a large submarine landslide deposit, without debris avalanche deposits coming from the volcano, comprising up to 300 km3 of remobilized seafloor sediment that extends for 70 km away from the coast and covers an area of 2100 km2. Our new data suggest that the aerial debris avalanche deposit enter the sea but stop at the base of submarine flank. We propose a new model dealing with seafloor sediment failures and landslide propagation mechanisms, triggered by volcanic flank-collapse events affecting Montagne Pelée volcano. Newly recognized landslide deposits occur deeper in the stratigraphy, suggesting the recurrence of large-scale mass-wasting processes offshore the island and thus, the necessity to better assess the associated tsunami hazards in the region.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2017-05-29
    Description: Formosa Ridge is one of many topographic ridges created by canyon incision into the eastern South China Sea margin. The northwestern termination of the ridge is caused by beheading of the ridge due to a westward shift of the canyon that originally formed to the eastern flank of Formosa Ridge. Below Formosa Ridge a bottom simulating reflector (BSR) exists. Its depth below sea floor coincides with the theoretical base of the gas hydrate stability zone and the reflection has reverse polarity suggesting that it is caused by free gas below gas hydrate accumulations. The BSR is ubiquitous but shows significant variations in depth below sea floor ranging from 150 ms TWT (or approximately 180 m) underneath the incised canyon in the north to up to 500 ms (or approximately 460 m) underneath the crest of Formosa Ridge. Predominantly this depth variation is the result of topography on subsurface temperature, but comparison with the average BSR depth underneath the surrounding canyons suggests that recent canyon incision in the north has perturbed the thermal state of the sediments. Formosa Ridge consists of a northern half that is dominated by refilled older canyons and a southern half that consists mainly of contourite deposits. However, judging by the reflection seismic data this difference in origin seems to have little effect on the distribution of gas hydrate.
    Type: Book chapter , NonPeerReviewed
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