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 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.

Review of ECORD Training Course 2018
@ MARUM, Bremen, Germany

ESR 11, ESR 2, ESR 3, ESR 4, ESR 6, ESR 7, ESR 9, News | 2018-06-18

From 23rd to 27th April, a group of seven SLATE ESRs participated in the ECORD Training Course 2018, which took place at MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, Bremen. This one-week course provided a “Virtual Ship Experience” and prepared the young researchers for sailing in an offshore drillship expedition.