Large Coastal Landslides and Tsunami Hazard in the Caribbean

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Abstract

With nine volcanic peaks in a 750-square-kilometer area, Dominica, in the Lesser Antilles volcanic arc (Figure 1), has one of the highest concentrations of potentially active volcanoes in the world [Lindsay et al., 2005]. Dominica is very hilly, and there have been numerous landslides, particularly on the island's wetter eastern and northern coasts.

Lindsay et al. [2005] consider the likelihood of gravitational collapses on the flanks of Dominica's volcanoes to be “low but not negligible.” However, many factors make Dominica particularly prone to large landslides (>1 million tons): (1) extensive zones of weakened rock, due to hydrothermal alteration and/or intense tropical weathering; (2) oversteepened slopes associated with tectonic uplift and erosion of volcanic edifice foot slopes; (3) large amounts of rainfall on the volcanic uplands, especially during the hurricane season (June–October), with annual averages of up to approximately 6000 millimeters; and (4) occasional severe seismic activity, e.g., a magnitude 7.3 earthquake on 29 November 2007, with its epicenter between Dominica and Martinique, and another of magnitude 6.2 on 21 November 2004, with its epicenter between Dominica and Guadeloupe.

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