Estimating the empirical probability of submarine landslide occurrence

By:  and 
Edited by: David C. MosherCraig ShippLorena MoscardelliJason D. ChaytorChristopher D. P. BaxterHoma J. Lee, and Roger Urgeles



The empirical probability for the occurrence of submarine landslides at a given location can be estimated from age dates of past landslides. In this study, tools developed to estimate earthquake probability from paleoseismic horizons are adapted to estimate submarine landslide probability. In both types of estimates, one has to account for the uncertainty associated with age-dating individual events as well as the open time intervals before and after the observed sequence of landslides. For observed sequences of submarine landslides, we typically only have the age date of the youngest event and possibly of a seismic horizon that lies below the oldest event in a landslide sequence. We use an empirical Bayes analysis based on the Poisson-Gamma conjugate prior model specifically applied to the landslide probability problem. This model assumes that landslide events as imaged in geophysical data are independent and occur in time according to a Poisson distribution characterized by a rate parameter λ. With this method, we are able to estimate the most likely value of λ and, importantly, the range of uncertainty in this estimate. Examples considered include landslide sequences observed in the Santa Barbara Channel, California, and in Port Valdez, Alaska. We confirm that given the uncertainties of age dating that landslide complexes can be treated as single events by performing statistical test of age dates representing the main failure episode of the Holocene Storegga landslide complex.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Estimating the empirical probability of submarine landslide occurrence
DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3071-9_31
Volume 28
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Submarine Mass Movements and Their Consequences
First page 377
Last page 386
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N