Submarine Slope Stability over Geologic Time

Matthew Wolinsky, Duke University

Prediction of slope stability in the submarine environment is an emerging field of inquiry, reflecting growing concerns of tsunamigenic landslide potential and risks in offshore oil and gas exploration. The submarine environment offers unique challenges, and slope stability there differs significantly from the more studied case of subaerial slope stability. Importantly, the significant timescales are much longer, because variability in the distribution and rate of sedimentation associated with sea-level cycles and climate change over geologic time is an important driving factor. Here a brief overview is provided of previous work in modeling the buildup to instability in passive continental margin (shelf/slope) environments. The focus is on the computational subtleties inherent in modeling the processes significant to submarine slope stability: hydromechanical coupling of pore fluid flow to deformation of the solid matrix, and the presence of dilatency and strain softening in the solid rheology. Model formulation and preliminary modeling results are also presented.

Abstract Author(s): Matthew Wolinsky