pp 1–27 | Cite as

Eastern Australia’s submarine landslides: implications for tsunami hazard between Jervis Bay and Fraser Island

  • Samantha L. ClarkeEmail author
  • Thomas C. T. HubbleEmail author
  • G. Miao
  • D. W. Airey
  • S. N. Ward
Original Paper


A hazard assessment of submarine landslide-generated tsunami for the east Australian continental slope between Jervis Bay and Fraser Island is presented. Submarine landslides are present in water depths of approximately 400 to 3500 m along the entire length of continental margin, but are increasingly prevalent northward of Coffs Harbour without clustering at any particular water depth. Two hundred sixty individual submarine landslide scars that are greater than 1 km in width have been identified. Of these, 36 have been calculated to produce a tsunami flow depth equal to or greater than 5 m at the coastline for an assumed landslide downslope velocity of 20 ms−1. Landslides that are both thick (> 100 m) and wide (> 5 km) have the greatest potential to generate the largest coastal flow depths (> 10 m). The water depth of a landslide’s centre of mass strongly influences the onshore height of the tsunami’s surge with the larger events generated in shallower water depths (~ 500–1500 m). The maximum flow depth at the coastline is larger for thicker (50–250+ m) canyon landslides which occur on steeper slopes (> 4°), compared to thinner (< 50 m) plateau landslides which generally produce smaller tsunami. Maximum inundation distances and run-up heights of 1.6 km and 22 m respectively have been calculated for landslide velocities of 20 ms−1 and these values vary significantly depending on local coastal topography. There is no evidence for a submarine landslide large enough and young enough to have generated a Holocene age megatsunami for the east coast of Australia.


Submarine landslides Wave height Southeastern Australia Flow depth Run-up Inundation distance 



We would like to acknowledge the P&O crew and scientific crews of the RV Southern Surveyor voyages (SS2008-V12 and SS2013-V01). Funding for this voyage was provided by ARC Australia and ConocoPhillips Pty Ltd. This paper benefitted from reviews by several anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geocoastal Research Group, Marine Sciences Institute, School of Geoscience, Faculty of ScienceThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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