Integrated geotechnical, sedimentological and geophysical investigation of seafloor instabilities in the Gulf of Lions Western Mediterranean

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 2 of this Preprint.


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Shray Badhani, Antonio Cattaneo, Stefano Collico, Roger Urgeles, Bernard Dennielou, Estelle Leroux, Florent Colin, Sebastien Garziglia, Marina Rabineau, Laurence Droz


The Gulf of Lions presents recurring mass-transport deposits (MTDs) within the Plio-Quaternary sediments suggesting a long history of mass-movements. The two large, surficial MTDs are located on the eastern and western levee of the Rhone canyon over an area exceeding 6000 km2 and volumes exceeding 100 km3. Both MTDs were emplaced 21 ka ago (peak of the Last Glacial Maximum), suggesting a common trigger. Here, we present a multidisciplinary high-resolution geophysical, sedimentological and in-situ geotechnical study of the source and deposit areas of both MTDs to characterise distinct expressions of sediment deformation as well as their spatial and chronological distributions. We show the internal structure of mass movement products with unprecedented details that were previously represented in the conventional seismic data as transparent and chaotic facies. The combination of multidisciplinary approaches shows new insights into the nature of basal surfaces of the slope failures. In particular, we show that the basal surfaces of the failures consist of clay-rich material contrasting with the overlying turbiditic deposits, suggesting that lithological heterogeneity exists within the strata. We suggest that this change in lithology between clay-rich sediments and turbiditic sequences most likely control the localisation of weak layers and landslide basal surfaces.



Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sedimentology


submarine landslides, basal surface, Western Mediterranean


Published: 2020-03-04 00:06

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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