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 journalArticle


The Makassar Strait is an important oceanic gateway, through which the main branch of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) transports water from the Pacific to Indian Ocean. This study identifies a number of moderate (>10km3) to giant (up to 650km3) 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 over-steepening results in recurring submarine landslides. A frequency for the >100 km3 failures 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 historic fault rupture-triggered tsunamis (located along the Palu-Koro faultzone) 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)1-39
Number of pages39
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Early online date1 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2020


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