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Detection and assessment of a large and potentially‐tsunamigenic periglacial landslide in Barry Arm, Alaska

October 29, 2020

The retreat of glaciers in response to global warming has the potential to trigger landslides in glaciated regions around the globe. Landslides that enter fjords or lakes can cause tsunamis, which endanger people and infrastructure far from the landslide itself. Here we document the ongoing movement of an unstable slope (total volume of 455 million m3) in Barry Arm, a fjord in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The slope moved rapidly between 2010 and 2017, yielding a horizontal displacement of 120 m, which is highly correlated with the rapid retreat and thinning of Barry Glacier. Should the entire unstable slope collapse at once, preliminary tsunami modeling suggests a maximum runup of 300 m near the landslide, which may have devastating impacts on local communities. Our findings highlight the need for interdisciplinary studies of recently deglaciated fjords to refine our understanding of the impact of climate change on landslides and tsunamis.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Detection and assessment of a large and potentially‐tsunamigenic periglacial landslide in Barry Arm, Alaska
DOI 10.1029/2020GL089800
Authors Chunli Dai, Bretwood Higman, Patrick J. Lynett, Mylène Jacquemart, Ian Howat, Anna K. Liljedahl, Anja Dufresne, Jeffery T. Freymueller, Marten Geertsema, Melissa Ward Jones, Peter Haeussler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Series Number
Index ID 70216159
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Geology Minerals