Volcanic-island lateral collapses and their submarine deposits

Sebastian F.L. Watt*, Jens Karstens, Christian Berndt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Citations (Scopus)


Landslide deposits offshore many volcanic islands provide evidence of catastrophic lateral collapses. These deposits span a larger volume range than their continental equivalents, and can generate devastating tsunamis. All historical volcanic-island lateral collapses have occurred in arc settings, and have been characterised by rapid failure and efficient tsunami generation. The varied morphology of their deposits is influenced both by lithological properties and the nature of the substrate. Many deposits show evidence of extensive seafloor erosion and transformation into debris flows, and the propagation of frontally-confined sediment deformation beyond and beneath the primary deposit. Mobilised volumes can far exceed that of the initial failure, and accurate deposit interpretation requires internal geophysical imaging and sampling. Around intraplate ocean-island volcanoes, multi-unit turbidites suggest that lateral collapses may occur in discrete stages; although this would reduce their overall tsunamigenic potential, the volumes of individual stages of collapse remain very large. Numerical models of both landslide and tsunami processes in ocean-island settings are difficult to test, and the smaller collapses that typify island arcs are an important focus of research due to their higher global frequency, availability of direct failure and tsunami observations, and a need to better understand the signals of incipient collapse to develop approaches for tsunami hazard mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVolcanic Debris Avalanches
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Collapse to Hazard
EditorsMatteo Roverato, Anja Dufresne, Jonathan Procter
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783030574116
ISBN (Print)9783030574109, 9783030574130
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Volcanology
ISSN (Print)2364-3277
ISSN (Electronic)2364-3285

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Matteo Roverato for editorial handling of this manuscript and the other editors for organisation of this volume. SW acknowledges funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NE/I02044X/1 and 2 and NET002026/1). We are grateful to Simon Day for detailed comments on a draft of this manuscript, and to Neil Mitchell and Rui Quartau for constructive reviews.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Debris avalanche
  • Flank collapse
  • Flow transformation
  • Submarine landslide
  • Tsunami hazard
  • Volcanic island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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