Investigating the basal shear zone of the submarine Tuaheni Landslide Complex, New Zealand: a core‐log‐seismic integration study

G.J. Crutchley, J. Elger, J. Kuhlmann, J.J. Mountjoy, A. Orpin, A. Georgiopoulou, J. Carey, B. Dugan, S. Cardona, S. Han, A. Cook, E.J. Screaton, I.A. Pecher, P. Barnes, K. Huhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Although submarine landslides have been studied for decades, a persistent challenge is the integration of diverse geoscientific datasets to characterize failure processes. We present a core‐log‐seismic integration study of the Tuaheni Landslide Complex to investigate intact sediments beneath the undeformed seafloor as well as post‐failure landslide deposits. Beneath the undeformed seafloor are coherent reflections underlain by a weakly‐reflective and chaotic seismic unit. This chaotic unit is characterized by variable shear strength that correlates with density fluctuations. The basal shear zone of the Tuaheni landslide likely exploited one (or more) of the low shear strength intervals. Within the landslide deposits is a widespread “Intra‐debris Reflector”, previously interpreted as the landslide's basal shear zone. This reflector is a subtle impedance drop around the boundary between upper and lower landslide units. However, there is no pronounced shear strength change across this horizon. Rather, there is a pronounced reduction in shear strength ∼10–15 m above the Intra‐debris Reflector that presumably represents an induced weak layer that developed during failure. Free gas accumulates beneath some regions of the landslide and is widespread deeper in the sedimentary sequence, suggesting that free gas may have played a role in pre‐conditioning the slope to failure. Additional pre‐conditioning or failure triggers could have been seismic shaking and associated transient fluid pressure. Our study underscores the importance of detailed core‐log‐seismic integration approaches for investigating basal shear zone development in submarine landslides.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JB021997
Pages (from-to)e2021JB021997
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2021


  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics


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