Underwater Landslide Experiment

Research output: Other contributionOther research output


This video shows a real-time recording of a scaled-down experiment of an underwater landslide. The width of view is 0.5m, the depth of view is ~2.5m (considerable foreshortening due to low camera angle). The experiment demonstrates the sequence of events during mass transport events, which occur on the modern seafloor, and are recognized in geological deposits: A trigger (in this case an earthquake) destabilised the sediments near the seafloor. The down-slope pull of gravity then exceeded the strength of the seafloor sediment, and the sediment started to break-up, and slide down the slope, all the while transforming into a jumble of blocks. Near the bottom of the slope, where gradients decreased, the movement came to a halt. The change of light halfway through the video is associated with a time lapse of 24 hours during which the experiment was left untouched. Another earthquake was generated, which destabilised another patch of sediments on the upper slope. Some blocks could be seen to accelerate to much higher speeds due to a mechanism called "hydroplaning" in massflow literature. The deformation of the flowing sediment blocks completely transformed part of the massflow into a debrisflow. The massflow deposit of the previous day's event acted as a butress at the base of the slope, that was partly overriden by the 2nd flow. In the geological record, such a combination of deposits created by a number of consecutive massflow events coming from the same source area is called a Mass Transport Complex.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputInternet
PublisherUU Dept. of Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2015


  • Eurotank Laboratory
  • Underwater Landslide


Dive into the research topics of 'Underwater Landslide Experiment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this