The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Friday, 14 September 2018 01:00

Hazard of landslide-triggered tsunamis due to glaciers melting

Melting glaciers increasing risk of landslide-triggered tsunamis Melting glaciers increasing risk of landslide-triggered tsunamis.

A new study shows that landslides, on slopes where ice retreats, can trigger massive tsunamis.

Ice behaves like a shelter for rocky slopes but as it melts, the risk of massive landslides increases. The hazard of tsunamis appears mostly in the coastlines of Greenland, Norway and Patagonia.

Such incidents are not unprecedented. A-180 million tons-rock landslide on Tyndall Glacier in Alaska that collapsed into the neighboring fjord, provoked a wave run up of about 200m. It is doubtless that the consequences of such events on a residential area will be devastating. According to the authors of the study: "The landslide and tsunami predicated by glacial retreat at Taan Fiord represents a hazard occasioned by climate change. More such landslides are likely to occur as mountain glaciers continue to shrink and alpine permafrost thaws. These landslides can more often be expected to produce tsunamis as water bodies grow and extend landward, closer to steep mountain slopes."

Despite their extreme magnitude, those incidents do not pose a major threat for civilization as they are more likely to occur in remote areas. However, residents of Polar regions should be alerted as fatal incidents have already happened. A landslide in Greenland that created a huge wave killed 4 people in the settlement of Nuugaatsiaq, 20 miles away.

Tsunamis triggered by landslides are a new scientific field and future research will provide more data to better understand the phenomenon. Authors of the study state: "This is the first time scientists have been able to study a landslide tsunami from start to finish."


Read 497 times Last modified on Friday, 14 September 2018 14:11

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