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In One Ear: Slippery slope

Undersea landslide cause discovered
By Elleda Wilson

The Daily Astorian

Published on March 2, 2018 12:01AM

Just about everyone knows earthquakes cause tsunamis; that’s not news. What is news is that scientists have recently released a study that reveals why oceanic landslides can also generate 65-foot high tsunamis: Slime. More precisely, slime on the sea floor created by accumulations of decomposing microscopic organisms, International Business Times reports (

When an undersea landslide happens, the clay layers resting on top of the ooze start sliding. “When the seabed loses its stability and starts to move, it often happens in much larger dimensions than landslides ashore — and at slopes with very low gradients,” the report from Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel says. The resulting displacement of large amounts of sediment slipping on the slime can cause “devastating” tsunamis.

Now that they know these landslides are causing tidal waves, a mystery remains, according to the report: “Why and when submarine landslides develop is hardly understood.” Back to the drawing board.


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