Abstract

Flank destabilizations are common processes in the life of a volcano. Apart from giant landslides with recurrence times of tens of thousands of years and whose deposits are identified in the bathymetry around the islands, less voluminous but more frequent erosional landslides contribute significantly to the morphological development of the topography. In this paper, we present a detailed description of a landslide sequence that occurred in 2009 and 2010 on the western flank of Montagne Pelée volcano, originating at the Samperre cliff. This sequence is characterized by two main events, in August 2009 and May 2010, and hundreds of smaller collapses. From seismic data and high resolution topographic data from airborne Lidar, collapses are counted and volumes of the main events are estimated. The May 2010 landslide has removed 2.1 millions of m3 of debris, which were subsequently remobilized during several hazardous lahars. The mean rates of erosion deduced from these volumes indicate that this kind of erosional landslide could represent a long term contribution of the same order of magnitude as giant flank collapses. The characterization of the runout of the landslides and of the Samperre cliff slopes provide important information for risk assessment, in particular for the risk of lahars that threaten the population living on the lower slopes.

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