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Submarine LAndslides and Their impact on European continental margins

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SLATE (Submarine LAndslides and Their impact on European continental margins)

Período documentado: 2019-04-01 hasta 2021-09-30

Submarine landslides can affect >1000s km2 of seafloor. Not only such large landslides but even small ones can pose a significant hazard, can pose a significant hazard because they may trigger tsunamis, and can damage seafloor infrastructure. As we need to understand associated risks, the main objective of SLATE was a better understanding of the processes acting prior to and during submarine landslides as well as their governing parameters.
The vast and in-depth knowledge gained through the research-through-training in SLATE now helps to identify areas of unstable seafloor to close the lack in knowledge on why a specific submarine slope destabilizes whereas neighbouring slopes remain stable. This is an essential prerequisite to develop sustainable usage strategies for continental slopes and coastal areas.
With a broad range of disciplines, methods, and technologies, some SLATE ESR projects investigated specific slopes while others based their research on a wider scale to generally investigate failure initiation. By bringing these two approaches together, SLATE provided both process-oriented knowledge and new expertise for hazard assessment.
The SLATE project has been shown to be both timely and socio-economically-relevant, as highlighted by e.g. novel numerical landslide-triggered tsunami models to understand the nature of the 2018 Anak Krakatau volcano tsunami that resulted in 100s of fatalities, damage to coastal infrastructure and displaced >33,000 people. This is just one example of SLATE studies that provide new benchmarks for future hazard assessments, enable more resilient infrastructure routing, design and inform disaster preparedness and response strategies.
The ITN SLATE enabled this research within 15 ESR projects. Four joint theme-focussed workshops have been arranged to provide research-through-training to these ESRs, by both academics and non-academics, and to foster collaborations across the network as well as with industrial partners. In addition, three technical workshops were offered which focussed on geophysical mapping of submarine landslides, coring techniques and core analysis as well as a field workshop at the Lake Lucerne. In addition, each ESR received an individual research-trough- training in the frame of Personal Development Plan Committee meetings and secondments at academic and non-academic institutions. Complementary soft skill training concentrated on outreach and communication activities as well as transferable skills, which were tailored to the ESRs individual requirements.
A wealth of data has been acquired to tackle the project’s objectives included comprehensive high-resolution and repeated seafloor surveys, novel direct monitoring, cutting-edge lab and in-situ measurements. New techniques were developed within SLATE, e.g. the semi-automatic detection of submarine landslides from bathymetric data, the implementation of new inversion techniques for geo-statistical analyses of seismic reflection images, or the development of geotechnical test procedures to assess the effect of seismic strengthening. Furthermore, SLATE also placed a strong emphasis on both the development and the application of newest numerical simulation techniques to gain a broader comprehensive description of landslide processes. These modelling approaches also benefitted from the development of multidisciplinary database in SLATE. Hence, SLATE served as a platform to develop large, multidisciplinary datasets compiling field and lab measurements as well as data from literature. Only such synthesising studies done in SLATE reveal a better understanding of fundamental landslide processes across scales and settings.
The newly acquired SLATE results have has already been published in 35 international peer-reviewed scientific publications and 13 PhD theses. In total 87% of all SLATE ESRs successfully completed their PhD in a mean of 3.75 years even under the unpredictable and difficult Corona pandemic conditions. They have all taken on new challenging jobs within and outside academia in various European countries, but also overseas; with seven of them in the non-academic sector. This clearly demonstrates the high quality of the training programme, the well-embedded and functioning management structure and the continuously high level of support and commitment of all SLATE beneficiaries and partners.
In addition to scientific publication, SLATE data has been disseminated in various ways, e.g. via more than 75 conference presentations, the SLATE webpage, newspaper articles, radio interviews, social media (e.g. via Twitter (@ItnSlate) or in public lectures. In addition, the newly implemented SLATE Webinar had particularly a high impact. This online webinar was developed to allow the ESRs to present and discuss their individual results with a wide international community, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 12 webinars were delivered by ESRs and invites were extended far beyond the original list of attendees from the project. Attendances often exceeded 80 people for an individual talk, and included representatives from industry and academia from China, Indonesia, India, New Zealand, USA as well as across Europe; and therewith increased significantly the visibility of the SLATE ITN.
With the strategy of joint training-through-research by an international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral consortium, SLATE trains a new generation of highly skilled submarine geohazard professionals. The 15 ESRs are provided with both a broad and well-funded expert knowledge and strong technical skills, but also various transferable and complementary soft-skill courses that are designed to reflect end-user industry needs, and provide new career perspectives.
With the strategy of joint training-through-research by an international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral consortium, SLATE trained a new generation of highly skilled submarine geohazard professionals. ESRs were provided with both a broad and well-funded expert knowledge and strong technical skills, but also various transferable and complementary soft-skill courses that were designed to reflect end-user industry needs, and provide new career perspectives. The annual joint workshops as well as the online SLATE webinar series have proven to be an excellent platform to bring young researchers, project leaders, associated scientists but also other stakeholders from both academia and non-academic sectors together.
Equipped with the knowledge gained through SLATE, 13 ESRs have successfully finished their PhD and started various jobs inside and outside academia. These young experts are now responsible to tackle the challenges posed to submarine landslides and associated geohazards under commercial and economic aspects to develop sustainable risk management approaches. This clearly demonstrate the considerable long-term impact of the SLATE programme.
The comprehensive scientific results gained in SLATE will certainly be of great use in numerous projects and studies in the future. Only such synthesizing data platform enables the development of new prediction and mitigation strategies to avoid damage caused by submarine landslides to offshore infrastructures and coastal population; which is an important part of European-wide maritime spatial planning and will ensure that the objectives of European policies can be fulfilled.
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