Southern Methodist University
2019-2020 Distinguished Lecturer

Forecasting slope failure and slide-generated tsunami hazards with IODP data

How common are slide-generated tsunamis?  Historical 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? The December 22nd 2018 Sumatra tsunami generated by sector collapse of Anak Krakatau highlights the importance of understanding these geologic phenomenon.  This presentation begins with a basic primer on landslide tsunami generation and outlines how they differ in character and dynamics from classic earthquake tsunamis. We then discuss three landslide-tsunami case studies that integrate IODP research and datasets. These case studies demonstrate how submarine slides have historically played a more important role in tsunami generation in the Pacific, Caribbean, and North Atlantic than we often realize. The analysis concludes by showing that in some geologic settings, the risk of slide-generated tsunamis is far greater than traditional studies suggest, with regional sedimentation patterns and sediment physical properties likely playing a more important role than tectonics in defining the tsunami hazard.

Matt Hornbach is a Professor of Geophysics 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 his Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Wyoming in 2004 and his undergraduate degree in Physics at Hamilton College in 1998.


September 30, 2019 -Trinity University; San Antonio, TX
October 17, 2019 – Kansas State University; Manhattan, KS
November 7, 2019 – Texas A&M University, Kingsville; Kingsville, TX
November 21, 2019 – University of North Dakota; Grand Forks, ND
November 22, 2019 – South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; Rapid City, SD
TBD – Ohio State University; Columbus, OH