Advances in Earth Science ›› 2023, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (2): 192-211. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2022.094

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Triggering Mechanism and Tsunamigenic Potential of Typical Submarine Landslides in South China Sea

Xiaoyi PAN 1( ), Linlin LI 1 , 2( ), Dawei WANG 2 , 3, Huabin SHI 2 , 4   

  1. 1.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Geodynamics and Geohazards, School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Sun YetSen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2.Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), Zhuhai Guangdong 519082, China
    3.Institute of Deep-Sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sanya Hainan 572000, China
    4.Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Macau, Macau 999078, China
  • Received:2022-07-14 Revised:2022-11-11 Online:2023-02-10 Published:2023-03-02
  • Contact: Linlin LI;
  • About author:PAN Xiaoyi (1996-), female, Wuzhou City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Master student. Research areas include numerical simulation of submarine landslide tsunami. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    Key R & D Project of Hainan Province “Development of prediction and assessment technology for submarine landslide-tsunami disaster in the South China Sea”(ZDYF2020209);The National Natural Science Foundation of China “Application of probabilistic earthquake and landslide tsunami disaster assessment system in South China Sea”(41976197)

Xiaoyi PAN, Linlin LI, Dawei WANG, Huabin SHI. Triggering Mechanism and Tsunamigenic Potential of Typical Submarine Landslides in South China Sea[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2023, 38(2): 192-211.

High-resolution geophysical data indicate that there are numerous submarine landslides in the China Sea region at various scales, particularly on continental slopes. Potentially devastating tsunami hazards generated by submarine landslides pose a great threat to the populous coastal region, fisheries, and oil and gas exploitation in the deep sea. Thus, hazard assessment is necessary. This study investigates the potential tsunami hazards generated by four representative submarine landslides in the South China Sea (SCS). The geological background and triggers of these submarine landslides are summarized. The key parameters of each landslide were constrained by currently available geological and geophysical data. A combined modeling approach, NHWAVE and FUNWAVE-TVD, was used to model the dynamic process of landslide movement and the generation and propagation of landslide tsunamis. The simulation results show that the tsunamigenic capacities of the Baiyun and Zengmu Ansha Slides differ significantly, although they have comparable volumes. This large difference was attributed to the discrepancy in the initial water depth and slope gradient. Tsunami waves generated by the Baiyun Slide rose up to approximately 12 m in the source area and mainly affected the northern region of the SCS, particularly the southern mainland Chinese coast. The Zengmu Ansha Slide generated 38 m tsunami waves that assailed the majority of the coastline of the southern SCS. The Zhongjiannan Slide generated highly localized tsunami waves about 10 m near the source region on the west SCS coast. The North Xisha trough slide produced a minor tsunami impact with tsunami waves that were approximately 0.9 m high in the source region. The distribution of the maximum surface elevation and the propagation characteristics of tsunami waves suggest that the tsunamigenic potential of submarine landslides is controlled by geometric and kinematic parameters. Meanwhile, complex bathymetry and coastlines change the energy distribution of tsunami waves, increasing the difficulty of tsunami hazard assessment. Conducting landslide-tsunami simulations for typical landslides in the SCS and establishing a landslide-tsunami database is of great research significance and will assist in improving the prediction of marine geo-hazards in China.

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