Timing of occurrence of large submarine landslides on the Atlantic Ocean margin

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Submarine landslides are distributed unevenly both in space and time. Spatially, they occur most commonly in fjords, active river deltas, submarine canyon-fan systems, the open continental slope and on the flanks of oceanic volcanic islands. Temporally, they are influenced by the size, location, and sedimentology of migrating depocenters, changes in seafloor pressures and temperatures, variations in seismicity and volcanic activity, and changes in groundwater flow conditions. The dominant factor influencing the timing of submarine landslide occurrence is glaciation. A review of known ages of submarine landslides along the margins of the Atlantic Ocean, augmented by a few ages from other submarine locations shows a relatively even distribution of large landslides with time from the last glacial maximum until about five thousand years after the end of glaciation. During the past 5000 yr, the frequency of occurrence is less by a factor of 1.7 to 3.5 than during or shortly after the last glacial/deglaciation period. Such an association likely exists because of the formation of thick deposits of sediment on the upper continental slope during glacial periods and increased seismicity caused by isostatic readjustment during and following deglaciation. Hydrate dissociation may play a role, as suggested previously in the literature, but the connection is unclear.




Lee, H. J. (2009). Timing of occurrence of large submarine landslides on the Atlantic Ocean margin. Marine Geology, 264(1–2), 53–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2008.09.009

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