A large potential rock avalanche above the northern shore of Tidal Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, was investigated to determine hazards and risks of landslide-induced waves to cruise ships and other park visitors. Field and photographic examination revealed that the 5 to 10 million cubic meter landslide moved between AD 1892 and 1919 after the retreat of Little Ice Age glaciers from Tidal Inlet by AD 1890. The timing of landslide movement and the glacial history suggest that glacial debuttressing caused weakening of the slope and that the landslide could have been triggered by large earthquakes of 1899-1900 in Yakutat Bay. Evidence of recent movement includes fresh scarps, back-rotated blocks, and smaller secondary landslide movements. However, until there is evidence of current movement, the mass is classified as a dormant rock slump. An earthquake on the nearby active Fairweather fault system could reactivate the landslide and trigger a massive rock slump and debris avalanche into Tidal Inlet. Preliminary analyses show that waves induced by such a landslide could travel at speeds of 45 to 50 m/s and reach heights up to 76 m with wave runups of 200 m on the opposite shore of Tidal Inlet. Such waves would not only threaten vessels in Tidal Inlet, but would also travel into the western arm of Glacier Bay endangering large cruise ships and their passengers.
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Preliminary assessment of landslide-induced wave hazards, Tidal Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska