Transient Groundwater Flow Through a Coastal Confined Aquifer and its Impact on Near‐Shore Submarine Slope Instability

Type Article
Date 2020-09
Language English
Author(s) Sultan NabilORCID1, Garziglia Sebastien1, Bompais XavierORCID2, Woerther Patrice2, Witt C3, Kopf A3, Migeon Sebastien4, 5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ifremer, Unité Géosciences Marines, F-29280 Plouzané, France
2 : Ifremer, Unité Recherche et Développements Technologiques, F-29280 Plouzané, France.
3 : MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
4 : Université Côte d’Azur, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, CNRS, IRD, Géoazur, 06560 Valbonne, France
5 : Sorbonne Université, UFR939, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-earth Surface (2169-9003) (American Geophysical Union), 2020-09 , Vol. 125 , N. 9 , P. e2020JF005654 (18p.)
DOI 10.1029/2020JF005654
Keyword(s) Nice continental slope, piezometer, pore pressure, shear zone, submarine landslide, Var delta

Rare in situ pore pressure and temperature data sets collected over more than one decade in a submarine landslide‐prone area off Nice (Southeast France) have been used to characterize a transient groundwater exchange between a coastal confined aquifer and the near‐shore shallow‐water submarine shelf. The near‐coast study zone is highly exposed to geohazards, and remains sadly famous for the 1979 catastrophic tsunamigenic submarine landslide with several casualties and substantial material damage. Measured pore pressure buildup does not appear to be synchronized with either the discharge of the nearby Var River or with precipitation in the Nice area. Unexpectedly, pore pressure fluctuations synchronizes well with seabed temperature trends indicating that the near‐shore submarine shelf is mainly impacted by long smooth seasonal variations. We used the pore pressure and temperature data to describe the general transport mechanisms of pore waters and show that diffusion is predominantly responsible for the near‐seabed pore pressure buildup. Based on our results and previously published geotechnical data, slope stability calculations reveal that groundwater exchange has a major impact on slope instability and shear zone formation in a prone‐to‐failure area. Minor earthquake‐induced ground accelerations seem to contribute to the near‐shore slope instability by decreasing its factor of safety.

Key Points

A decade of pore pressure data reveals important groundwater exchange between a coastal aquifer and a near‐shore submarine shelf

Excess pore pressures are more likely the trigger of observed shear zones in a prone‐to‐failure area

Earthquakes could accelerate the development of progressive slope failure by decreasing its factor of safety

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Sultan Nabil, Garziglia Sebastien, Bompais Xavier, Woerther Patrice, Witt C, Kopf A, Migeon Sebastien (2020). Transient Groundwater Flow Through a Coastal Confined Aquifer and its Impact on Near‐Shore Submarine Slope Instability. Journal Of Geophysical Research-earth Surface, 125(9), e2020JF005654 (18p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :