Indonesian Throughflow as a preconditioning mechanism for submarine landslides in the Makassar Strait

R. Brackenridge, U. Nicholson* (Corresponding Author), B. Sapiie, D. Stow, D. R. Tappin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


The Makassar Strait is an important oceanic gateway, through which the main branch of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) transports water from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. This study identifies a number of moderate (>10 km 3) to giant (up to 650 km 3) mass transport deposits within the Makassar North Basin Pleistocene–Recent section. The majority of submarine landslides that formed these deposits originated from the Mahakam pro-delta, with the largest skewed to the south. We see clear evidence for ocean-current erosion, lateral transport and contourite deposition across the upper slope. This suggests that the ITF is acting as an along-slope conveyor belt, transporting sediment to the south of the delta, where rapid sedimentation rates and slope oversteepening results in recurring submarine landslides. A frequency for the >100 km 3failures is tentatively proposed at 0.5 Ma, with smaller events occurring at least every 160 ka. This area is therefore potentially prone to tsunamis generated from these submarine landslides. We identify a disparity between historical fault rupture-triggered tsunamis (located along the Palu-Koro fault zone) and the distribution of mass transport deposits in the subsurface. If these newly identified mass failures are tsunamigenic, they may represent a previously overlooked hazard in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-217
Number of pages23
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Early online date1 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This work was completed as part of a Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) pump-priming project at Heriot Watt University (PI Nicholson). We would like to thank our partners at Bandung Institute of Technology, and the members of the Indonesian Marine Geological Institute and Geological Survey of Indonesia for their discussion and contribution to this research. We thank TGS and Multiclient Geophysical for permission to publish seismic and multibeam data respectively. D.R. Tappin publishes with the permission of the Executive Director of the BGS (United Kingdom Research and Innovation).




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