University of Malta

Submarine Landslides
UOM Main Page
Campus Map button

Submarine landslides are among the largest natural events on Earth, occurring along all continental margins worldwide. In terms of volume, submarine landslides can be three orders of magnitude larger than their terrestrial counterparts, which makes them one of the most important agents transferring sediments across the planet. They can generate or enhance damaging tsunamis, posing a significant risk to coastal communities. Submarine landslides can also damage seafloor infrastructure, such as that used to recover oil and gas, or seafloor telecommunication cables, which carry more than 95% of global internet traffic. By integrating the geomorphometric approach with analyses of multi-scale seafloor data, our research resulted in:

  1. Understanding the mechanics and triggers of spreading, a poorly-investigated but widespread type of submarine landslide, using limit-equilibrium and numerical modelling (Micallef et al., 2007b; Micallef et al., 2007d).
  2. Identification of scale invariance in submarine landslide morphology and statistics, which has important implications for   submarine landslide modelling and hazard assessment (Micallef et al., 2007c, 2008).
  3. Elucidation of the evolution dynamics of a multi-phase submarine landslide, which emphasises the potential role of gas hydrate dissociation and contourite deposition in controlling the location and extent of submarine slope failures (Micallef et al., 2009). 
  4. Determining the influence of shallow gas in the development of weak layers in submarine spreads (Micallef et al., 2015). 
Understanding the role of bedrock landslides in submarine canyon evolution (Micallef et al., 2012).  Multibeam bathymetry and sub-bottom profile of a spread in the eastern Malta Plateau (Micallef et al., 2013).

Other themes addressed include:

  • Using the 1888 Ritter volcanic flank collapse (Papua New Guinea) as a benchmark for tsunami models (Micallef et al., 2017)
  • Subaerial and submarine slope instability in Chilean fjords and the impact on tsunami generation (Lastras et al., 2013; Hermanns et al., 2014).
  • The role of cone growth and flank collapse in the construction of oceanic islands (Canary Islands) (Rivera et al., 2013).
  • Slope instability and tectonics offshore eastern Sicily (Gutscher et al., 2016; Gross et al., 2016). 
Last Updated: 26 January 2018

Log In back to UoM Homepage