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The 2015 landslide and tsunami in Taan Fiord, Alaska

September 6, 2018

Glacial retreat in recent decades has exposed unstable slopes and allowed deep water to extend beneath some of those slopes. Slope failure at the terminus of Tyndall Glacier on 17 October 2015 sent 180 million tons of rock into Taan Fiord, Alaska. The resulting tsunami reached elevations as high as 193 m, one of the highest tsunami runups ever documented worldwide. Precursory deformation began decades before failure, and the event left a distinct sedimentary record, showing that geologic evidence can help understand past occurrences of similar events, and might provide forewarning. The event was detected within hours through automated seismological techniques, which also estimated the mass and direction of the slide - all of which were later confirmed by remote sensing. Our field observations provide a benchmark for modeling landslide and tsunami hazards. Inverse and forward modeling can provide the framework of a detailed understanding of the geologic and hazards implications of similar events. Our results call attention to an indirect effect of climate change that is increasing the frequency and magnitude of natural hazards near glaciated mountains.

Publication Year 2018
Title The 2015 landslide and tsunami in Taan Fiord, Alaska
DOI 10.1038/s41598-018-30475-w
Authors Brentwood Higman, Dan H. Shugar, Colin P. Stark, Goran Ekstrom, Michele N Koppes, Patrick Lynett, Anja Dufresne, Peter J. Haeussler, Marten Geertsema, Sean P.S. Gulick, Andrew Mattox, Jeremy G. Venditti, Maureen A. L. Walton, Naoma McCall, Erin Mckittrick, Breanyn MacInnes, Eric L. Bilderback, Hui Tang, Micheal Willis, Bruce Richmond, Bobby Reece, Christopher F. Larsen, Bjorn Olson, James Capra, Aykut Ayca, Colin K Bloom, Haley Williams, Doug Bonno, Robert Weiss, Adam Keen, Vassilios Skanavis, Micheal Loso
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70217632
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Geology Minerals