Morphological control of slope instability in contourites: a geotechnical approach

Contourite drifts are sediment bodies formed by the action of bottom currents. They are common features found on continental slopes and are often affected by slope failure. However, processes controlling slope instability in contourite depositional systems are still not well constrained, and it is not clear whether contourites have particular properties that make them more susceptible to slope failure. In this study, we compare sedimentological and geotechnical properties of contouritic and hemipelagic sediments within the Corsica Trough (northern Tyrrhenian Sea) using geophysical data sets and sediment cores in order to get a better understanding of the controlling factors of slope stability. Geomorphological and slope stability analyses reveal that differences in sediment properties have little influence on the location of submarine landslides, in comparison with the morphology of the drifts. Hence, the steep downslope flanks of plastered drift deposits are the most susceptible zones for local failure initiation. Moreover, as erosion is common at the foot of plastered drifts, undercutting is thought to contribute to the development of large-scale failure up to the point that submarine landslides are triggered.


Sediment drift, Submarine landslide, Undrained shear strength, Hemipelagite, Mediterranean Sea

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Miramontes Elda, Garziglia Sebastien, Sultan Nabil, Jouet Gwenael, Cattaneo Antonio (2018). Morphological control of slope instability in contourites: a geotechnical approach. Landslides. 15 (6). 1085-1095.,

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