Slide-Generated Tsunamis: Past, Present, Future

Matt Hornback, Southern Methodist University
Event Location: 
Event Date: 
Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 3:00pm
Event Type: 
SCMSS Seminar Series


How common are slide-generated tsunamis? Analysis of tsunami catalogs suggests only 3-9% of all reported tsunamis are generated via submarine landslides or volcanic eruptions. As a result, slide-generate tsunamis are often considered a low-risk geohazard. But is this really true? Here, I begin with a very basic primer on landslide tsunami generation and explain how they differ in character and dynamics from classic earthquake tsunamis. I then present three case studies in tsunami generation based on recent research. These case studies constrain the cause of unusual pre-historic tsunamis in Tonga, historical tsunamis in the Caribbean, and the possibility of future tsunamis in the Western North Atlantic. The analysis demonstrates that in some geologic settings, the risk of slide-generated tsunamis is far greater than traditional studies suggest and that regional sedimentation patterns, not just local tectonics, play a critical role in defining tsunami risk.

Speaker Information

Matt Hornbach is an Associate Professor of Geophysics and Director of the Applied Geophysics Program in the Department of Earth Sciences at Southern Methodist University. Prior to joining SMU in 2010, Matt was a Research Associate at The University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Geophysics, where he also completed a 2-year postdoc. He obtained a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Wyoming in 2004 and an A.B. in Physics at Hamilton College in 1998. When he’s not working or spending time with his wife and two young boys, he enjoys sleeping.