Tsunamis caused by submarine slope failures along western Great Bahama Bank

Jara S.D. Schnyder, Gregor P. Eberli, James T. Kirby, Fengyan Shi, Babak Tehranirad, Thierry Mulder, Emmanuelle Ducassou, Dierk Hebbeln, Paul Wintersteller

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Abstract

Submarine slope failures are a likely cause for tsunami generation along the East Coast of the United States. Among potential source areas for such tsunamis are submarine landslides and margin collapses of Bahamian platforms. Numerical models of past events, which have been identified using high-resolution multibeam bathymetric data, reveal possible tsunami impact on Bimini, the Florida Keys, and northern Cuba. Tsunamis caused by slope failures with terminal landslide velocity of 20 ms-1 will either dissipate while traveling through the Straits of Florida, or generate a maximum wave of 1.5 m at the Florida coast. Modeling a worst-case scenario with a calculated terminal landslide velocity generates a wave of 4.5 m height. The modeled margin collapse in southwestern Great Bahama Bank potentially has a high impact on northern Cuba, with wave heights between 3.3 to 9.5 m depending on the collapse velocity. The short distance and travel time from the source areas to densely populated coastal areas would make the Florida Keys and Miami vulnerable to such low-probability but high-impact events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35925
JournalScientific reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 4 2016

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    Schnyder, J. S. D., Eberli, G. P., Kirby, J. T., Shi, F., Tehranirad, B., Mulder, T., Ducassou, E., Hebbeln, D., & Wintersteller, P. (2016). Tsunamis caused by submarine slope failures along western Great Bahama Bank. Scientific reports, 6, [35925]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep35925