Landslide-Tsunami Consortium

Principal InvestigatorProfessor Walter Distaso

Funder: NERC

Duration: November 2013 – September 2016

Visit the main project website.

Led by the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, the consortium involves 11 UK partners – including Imperial, the University of Cambridge, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Exeter – funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to assess the hazard that submarine landslide-generated tsunamis pose to the UK.

While many tsunamis are created by earthquakes near plate boundaries, they can also be caused by underwater landslides and given the UK’s distance from plates, these may pose a greater threat, as they can be far larger than any seen on land. The overall project will:

  • Determine the frequency and timing of major Arctic submarine slides;
  • Better understand trigger factors and assess whether the frequency of the slides is likely to increase as climate changes and oceans warm;
  • Assess the magnitude necessary for landslide-tsunamis to flood parts of the UK coast
  • Quantify the likely cost to the UK of different types of inundation triggered by different types of a landslide occurring in different locations.

The Business School’s work focuses on the final aim to estimate cost and risk. Various techniques are being employed across the partners including modelling techniques of future trends in seismicity and landslide motion, plus laboratory experiments and seafloor mapping. Results will be used to develop recommended measures for offseting a tsunami’s impact on the UK coast and analysis of uncertainties, and societal cost.

Outputs from this project will be supplied to the UK flood-risk management (Environment Agency, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish Environment Protection Agency), the re-insurance sector (Willis Research Network) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.