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Abstract

Submarine landslides represent a major, previously little recognized, geological hazard to the coastal communities. This study investigates the size, depth and degree of submarine landslides along the margins of the Ulleung Basin and examines how the shelf morphology and sediment supply affect the style and occurrence of slope failures. The slopes have experienced at least 38 episodes of submarine failures, which have left clear arcuate-shaped scarps that initiate at water depths of 150–1120 m. Individual landslides comprise volumes over the range 0.1–340 km3, cover 20–800 km2 on the seafloor and have runout distances of up to 50 km from the source. The headwall scarps are observed as being in excess of 500 m high. The height of scarps in the southern margin is significantly larger than in the western margin. Moreover, the volume of mass-transport deposits in the southern margin is also much higher compared to those from the western margin. The occurrence of the broad shelf (30–150 km wide) and high sedimentation rates in the southern margin might have led to large-scale slope failures. In contrast, the narrow shelf (<20 km) and low sedimentation rates in the western margin would only have promoted small-scale mass-wasting events.

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