Reconstruction of retreating mass wasting in response to progressive slope steepening of the northeastern Gretan margin, eastern Mediterranean.

Strozyk, Frank, Strasser, Michael, Krastel, Sebastian, Meyer, Mathias and Huhn, Katrin (2010) Reconstruction of retreating mass wasting in response to progressive slope steepening of the northeastern Gretan margin, eastern Mediterranean. Marine Geology, 271 . pp. 44-54. DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2010.01.008.

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Abstract

In this study we aim on a reconstruction of mechanisms and kinematics of slope-failure and mass-movement processes along the northeastern slope of Crete in the Hellenic forearc, eastern Mediterranean. Here, subsidence of the forearc basin and the uplift of the island of Crete cause ongoing steepening of the slope in-between. The high level of neotectonic activity in this region is expected to exert a key role in slope-failure development. Newly acquired reflection seismic data from the upper slope region reveal an intact sediment cover while the lower slope is devoid of both intact strata and mass-transport deposits (MTDs). In a mid-slope position, however, we found evidence for a ∼ 4-km³-sized landslide complex that comprises several MTDs from translational transport of coherent sediment bodies over short distances. Morphometric analysis of these MTDs and their source scars indicates that this part of the northeast Cretan slope can be characterized as a cohesive slope. Furthermore, we reconstruct retrogressive development for this complex and determine a critical slope angle for both pre-conditioning of failure and subsequent landslide deposition near source scars. Consequently, data imply that the investigated shallower slope is stable due to low angles in the order of 3°, whereas 5°-inclined mid-slope portions favour both slope destabilization and landslide deposition. The failed mid-slope parts are dominated by sediment truncations from faults almost correlating with the orientation of head- and sidewalls of scars. We suggest that cohesive landslides and MTDs are generated and preserved, respectively, in such critical slope regions. If once generated, cohesive landslides reach the lower slope further downslope that exceeds the threshold gradient for MTD deposition (∼ 5°), they are transported all the way down to the foot of the slope and disintegrate to mass flows. From these observations we suggest that the mass-wasting history of the investigated Cretan slope area over a longer period of time is characterized by repeated sediment erosion and transport into the deeper Cretan Sea basin. The relocation of the critical slope portion in upslope direction and therefore recurrence of mass-wasting events is thereby likely controlled by the progressive steepening of the slope. This mechanism and restriction of sediment failure to narrow, critically-inclined and relocating slope portions likely explains how such an active margin setting can exhibit only scarce findings of MTDs on the slope despite an expected, extensive and widespread mass wasting.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Cretan Sea, landslides, slope architecture, slope failure, mass wasting, RV Poseidon, POS336
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.margeo.2010.01.008
ISSN: 0025-3227
Expeditions/Models/Experiments:
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2010 12:23
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2017 13:45
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/2691

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