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Abstract

Tephra beds are considered to be potential failure planes for submarine landslides. Here, we report on an example of a coarse-ash/lapilli-tuff bed influencing translational slides. The studied mass-transport deposit (MTD) is intercalated in the Pleistocene forearc basin fill exposed in east-central Japan. This MTD consists of stacked siltstone blocks resulting from repeated imbricate thrusts branching from the décollement. The basal slide plane is located immediately below a pumice-rich coarse ash/lapilli-tuff bed. The material comprising the slip zone is injected into the overlying coarse-ash/lapilli-tuff bed, suggesting an upwards escape of excess porewater that resulted from elevated pore pressure. To explain this mode of occurrence, we propose that the detachment preferentially occurred at the top and base of the coarse-ash-tuff-rich interval which appears to have been stronger relative to the adjacent silt-dominated interval. The pumiceous coarse-ash and lapilli-tuff bed behaved as a rigid plate on top of the high-pore-pressure slip zone, which sustained the translational slide on the gentle continental slope. Therefore, in translational submarine landslides, the preferential formation of a slide plane is caused by differing frictional resistances in the layered sediments.

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