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Subaqueous landslides at the distal basin of Lago Nahuel Huapi (Argentina): Towards a tsunami hazard evaluation in Northern Patagonian lakes

Beigt, Débora, Villarosa, Gustavo, Gómez, Eduardo A., Manzoni, Carolina
Geomorphology 2016 v.268 pp. 197-206
basins, coasts, digital elevation models, earthquakes, geophysics, hazard characterization, inventories, lakes, landslides, surveys, tsunamis, watersheds, Argentina, Chile
The May 22nd, 1960 Valdivia earthquake, Chile (Mw 9.5) triggered a series of subaqueous mass-wasting processes (debris flows and slides) in Lago Nahuel Huapi (Argentina), generating a tsunami-like wave that hit the coasts of San Carlos de Bariloche. Aiming to provide a first preliminary insight into tsunami hazards for the lakeshore communities, in this paper we identify and characterize the subaqueous landslides at the populated distal basin of the lake. Swath bathymetric and seismic profiling surveys were carried out and high-resolution digital elevation models were derived from these data to perform a landslide inventory map. A series of morphometrical parameters (including the landslide area, the volume of displaced materials and the run-out distance, among others) were estimated upon selected events. The results indicated that landslide activity at the distal basin of Lago Nahuel Huapi has been concentrated in the vicinity of Bariloche (massive landslide triggered by the 1960 earthquake) and within steep delta fronts where the slope failures typically initiate at shallow waters (9–11m depth). The sliding mass frequently travels basinward along a great distance (≥1000m). At the delta fronts, the volume of material removed by landslides can reach ~40×104m3, leaving scar areas of up to 13m thick. The periodic occurrence of rotational–translational mass movements initiating at the upper edge of the delta fronts, with vertical displacements of the mobilized materials reaching ~200m, probably represents a potential tsunami hazard for the nearby populated coasts.