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Abstract

Recurrent storms, floods, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis challenge the development of resilient infrastructure and communities in coastal northwestern British Columbia. Vulnerability assessment first requires extended and improved understanding of geohazards in the Pacific Basin to constrain modelling of future events. An investigation of soils and bedrock structures in the Douglas Channel provides insight into the distribution of deposits attributed to geohazards in the region. Newly discovered marine inundation deposits corroborate numerical models and suggest that Pacific-sourced storms and earthquake-triggered tsunamis expend much of their energy in the outer coast and rarely reach far up the mainland fjords. Small-volume Folisolic slides and rockfalls do not generate tsunamis of any consequence. In contrast, marine sediments deposited beyond storm berms at the fjord head are a record of local tsunamis generated by large-volume marine slumps. Deep-fractured bedrock mapped upslope from relict submarine features would trigger damaging tsunami waves if rapid failure into the fjord were to occur. The observations above suggest only great earthquakes, large landslides and seasonal storms above a certain threshold volume and impulse energy produce geomorphically significant inundation events. However, even small submarine landslides have tsunamigenic potential in Douglas Channel since they occur in shallow water.

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