Submarine Slope Stability Assessment of the Central Mediterranean Continental Margin: The Gela Basin

  • Fei AiEmail author
  • Jannis Kuhlmann
  • Katrin Huhn
  • Michael Strasser
  • Achim Kopf
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 37)


This study investigates slope stability for a relatively small scale (5.7 km2, 0.6 km3), 8 kyr old landslide named Northern Twin Slide (NTS) at the slope of the Gela Basin in the Sicily Channel (central Mediterranean). The NTS is characterized by two prominent failure scars, forming two morphological steps of 110 and 70 m height. Geotechnical data from a drill core upslope the failure scar (GeoB14403) recovered sediments down to ∼52 m below seafloor (mbsf). The deposits show low over consolidation ratio (OCR = 0.24–0.4) and low internal friction angle (20–22°) around 28–45 mbsf, which suggests this mechanically weak interval may act as potential location of instability in a future failure event. Oedometer tests attest the sediments are highly under consolidated and the average overpressure ratio (λ*) is ∼0.7. Slope stability analyses carried out for different scenarios indicate that the slope is stable both under static undrained and drained conditions. A relatively small horizontal acceleration of 0.03–0.08 g induced by an earthquake may be sufficient to cause failure. We propose that moderate seismic triggers may have been responsible for the twin slide formation and could also cause mass wasting in the future.


Slope stability Submarine landslide Geotechnical characteristics Central Mediterranean 



We thank the captain and crew of the RV Meteor for their support during the cruise MSM 15/3. Matthias Lange is thanked for outstanding technical assistance with the geotechnical laboratory devices. This study has been funded through DFG-Research Center/Cluster of Excellence “The Ocean in the Earth System”. We also like thank reviewers Brandon Dugan and Vasilios Lykousis for their constructive remarks.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fei Ai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jannis Kuhlmann
    • 1
  • Katrin Huhn
    • 1
  • Michael Strasser
    • 2
  • Achim Kopf
    • 1
  1. 1.MARUM-Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, and Faculty of GeosciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Geological InstituteETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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