The role of sedimentation rate and permeability in the slope stability of the formerly glaciated Norwegian continental margin: the Storegga slide model

Type Article
Date 2007-12
Language English
Author(s) Leynaud Didier1, Sultan NabilORCID2, Mienert Jurgen1, 2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Tromso, Dept Geol, N-9037 Tromso, Norway.
2 : IFREMER, DRO GM, Plouzane, France.
Source Landslides (1612-510X) (Springer), 2007-12 , Vol. 4 , N. 4 , P. 297-309
DOI 10.1007/s10346-007-0086-z
WOS© Times Cited 39
Keyword(s) Submarine slide, Slope stability, Sediment overpressure, Rapid sedimentation
Abstract Despite the gently dipping slopes (ca 1 degrees), large-scale submarine slope failures have occurred on the mid-Norwegian continental margin (Storegga, Sklinnadjupet, Traenadjupet), suggesting the presence of special conditions predisposing to failure in this formerly glaciated margin. With a volume estimated between 2,400 and 3,200 km(3) and an affected area of approximately 95,000 km(2), the Storegga slide represents one of the largest and best-studied submarine slides of Holocene age known worldwide. Finite element modeling of slope failure indicates that a large (6.5 < Ms < 7.0) seismic triggering mechanism would not be sufficient to cause failure at more than 110 m below the seabed as observed for the slip planes at Storegga (northern sidewall). This implies that other factors (e.g., liquefaction, strain softening, gas charging, rapid burial) are needed to explain the occurrence of the Storegga slide with a deep surface of failure. In this paper, we discuss the importance of the compaction effect of rapidly accumulated sediments in the slide area. During compaction, sediment grains reorganize themselves, thereby, expelling pore water. Consequently, depending on sedimentation rate and permeability, excess pore pressures might result beneath less permeable sediments. Our modeling and cross-checking illustrate how excess pore pressure generation due to high sedimentation rate could explain the development of layers of weakness, and thus, how such a large slide might have been initiated in deep sediments. Using the highest sedimentation rate estimated in the area (36 and 27 m/kyr between 16.2 and 15 kyr BP), 1D modeling shows excess pore pressure values of around 200 kPa at a depth of 100 m below the seafloor 15 kyr BP and 60 kPa at a depth of 100 m at the time of the slide (8 kyr BP). Excess pore pressure apparently drastically reduced the resistance of the sediment (incomplete consolidation). In addition, 2D modeling shows that permeability anisotropies can significantly affect the lateral extent of excess pore pressure dissipation, affecting, that way, normally consolidated sediments far from the excess pore pressure initiation area.
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