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Karrat Fjord (Greenland) tsunamigenic landslide of 17 June 2017: initial 3D observations


On 17 June 2017, a landslide-generated tsunami reached the village of Nuugaatsiaq, Greenland, leaving four persons missing and presumed dead. Here, we present a preliminary high-resolution analysis of the tsunamigenic landslide scar based on three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions of oblique aerial photographs taken during a post-failure reconnaissance helicopter overflight. Through a 3D quantitative comparison with pre-failure topography, we estimate that approximately 58 million m3 of rock and colluvium (talus) was mobilized during the landslide, 45 million m3 of which reached the fjord, resulting in a destructive tsunami. We classify this event as a “tsunamigenic extremely rapid rock avalanche,” which likely released along a pre-existing metamorphic fabric, bounded laterally by slope-scale faults. Further analysis is required to properly characterize this landslide and adjacent unstable slopes, and to better understand the tsunami generation.

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The survey team was supported by the National Science Foundation through the NSF RAPID award CMMI-1748631. Pre-failure DEMs were provided by the Polar Geospatial Center ( under NSF OPP awards 1043681, 1559691, and 1542736. The post-failure DEM is available from D.G. We thank Adrián Riquelme for a very constructive review of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dave Gauthier.

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Gauthier, D., Anderson, S.A., Fritz, H.M. et al. Karrat Fjord (Greenland) tsunamigenic landslide of 17 June 2017: initial 3D observations. Landslides 15, 327–332 (2018).

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  • Rock avalanche
  • Tsunamigenic landslide
  • 3D observation