Geophysical characterisation of submarine landslide deposits

Jonathan Ford | OGS Trieste


Submarine landslide deposits have a characteristic “acoustically transparent” or “chaotic” texture in seismic and sub-bottom profiler data. However in outcrop examples we often identify seismic-scale structure: folding and faulting, lithological boundaries and included blocks. Landslide deposits differ from other sediments because they can show strong lateral deformation due to sliding. Slide processes can also alter the lithology and petrophysics properties. This project aims to investigate the main structural and petrophysical controls on the seismic response.

I am using information from outcrops, downhole logs and cores to build realistic high resolution visco-elastic models of submarine landslide deposits. Randomly varying the parameters allows us to model a range of realistic landslide scenarios. Using seismic forward modelling we can compare this known geology to the geophysical response.

Better understanding seismic wave propagation inside submarine landslide deposits will allow better seismic imaging and give a fuller understanding of seismic resolution. This will assist interpreters studying the internal structure of these deposits. In the future we hope to be able to estimate elastic properties of slope sediments (pre- and post-failure) directly from multi-channel seismic data. Using this information we can estimate shear strength and the likelihood of further slope failure. This would allow better estimation of submarine landslide hazard to seafloor infrastructure and to coastal populations from tsunami.

Hosting institute
Working Group
PDP Committee members:


Jonathan Ford
OGS Trieste
PhD student – ESR 2
Angelo Camerlenghi
OGS Trieste
Principal Investigator – ESR 2


Impressions from the EGU 2019
@ Vienna, Austria (07 – 12 April 2019)

Conferences, ESR 1, ESR 12, ESR 13, ESR 14, ESR 15, ESR 2, ESR 3, ESR 4, ESR 5, ESR 6, ESR 7, ESR 8, ESR 9, News | 2019-07-23

ESRs share their experience at the EGU General Assembly 2019 hosted in Vienna, Austria. Posters, oral presentations, PICOs and much more.

Lake Lucerne Workshop –
expert courses

Courses, ESR 11, ESR 12, ESR 2, News | 2018-10-16

Being a scientist does not only mean doing hard science everyday – it also requires presenting it to the public. In this third post in the ‘Lake Lucerne Workshop’ series Jonny (ESR2), Monika (ESR11) and Will (ESR12) share their experience of the expert courses on science communication.

Impressions from the INSIGHT cruise
@ RV Sarmiento de Gamboa

ESR 12, ESR 2, ESR 6, News | 2018-06-18

To acquire data for their individual ESR projects, William, Jonathan and Davide recently participated in Leg 1 of the INSIGHT cruise in the Gulf of Cádiz. Read more about their experience and tasks during the expedition and the scientific impact for their own research. They imaged and sampled the seafloor and its subsurface to better understand the earthquake and tsunami hazard in the Gulf of Cadiz.