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The Gloria Knolls Slide, an undersea landslide that occurred more than 300,000 years ago produced underwater hills and may have triggered powerful tsunami. The Great Barrier Reef may have dampened the impact of the waves. ( James Cook University )
Simulations of the event likewise showed that the ancient landslide was powerful enough to set off tsunami taller than an eight-story building.
The impact of the wave, however, was likely dampened by the Great Barrier Reef, if it existed at the time, which could have dispersed some of the surge's power.
"The Great Barrier Reef acts like a giant porous breakwater to reduce the energy [of ocean swell]," Beaman said. "If it was in existence at the time of this landslide, it would have done a similar job."
(A) Bathymetry (30-m resolution DEM) of the central part of the north-eastern Australia margin showing the location of the study area (yellow box inset) and main physiographic regions: Great Barrier Reef shelf and Queensland Trough. The slope is excavated by the Noggin Canyon system (Puga-Bernabéu et al., 2013b) and shows a large km-scale shelf indentation at the location of the Gloria Knolls Slide. Blue dots mark the position of the drilling sites of the Ocean Drilling Program Leg 133. Yellow dots mark the location of cores collected on RV Franklin Cruise FR4/92. Bathymetry contours in metres. (B) Westerly view showing the Gloria Knolls Slide (GKS) and adjacent seafloor features. The GKS is divided into a source area at the slope (white dashed line) and a depositional area in the trough (pink dashed line). Yellow lines mark the location of sub-bottom seismic profiles shown in Fig. 5. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
(A) Bathymetry (30-m resolution DEM) of the study area showing the three main seafloor terrains that can be distinguished in the Gloria Knolls Slide based on seafloor morphology: the source area (SA), the proximal depositional area (PDA) and distal depositional area (DDA). Headwall scarps (hs) are marked with dashed lines. White lines with letters and black lines with numbers correspond to depth profiles shown in Fig. 3. (B) Slope gradient map. (C) Maximum slope direction (aspect). (D) Plan curvature map. (E) Profile curvature map. (F) Interpreted seafloor features.
Westerly view of the distal depositional area of the Gloria Knolls Slide complex showing the distribution of larger knolls and smaller debris blocks on the seafloor. The knolls are numbered from 1 to 8. Red numbers mark the location of the two depth profiles shown across knoll No. 1 and the smaller debris field. Note the presence of moats at the northern sides of the knolls. White star marks the position of the collected rock dredge on top of knoll No. 1. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
Unlike tsunamis generated by earthquake, underwater slides generated by tsunami can happen around the Atlantic as well as the Pacific rim.
Side scan sonar images of the Goleta slide along the edge of the continental shelf on the western edge of North America offshore southern California near Goleta, Santa Barbara County.
Side scan sonar images of the Albemarle-Currituck slide along the edge of the continental shelf on the eastern edge of North America offshore offshore North Carolina.