Story: Sea floor geology

Underwater landslide

Underwater landslide

Looking like a landslide on any over-grazed hill, this submarine slide off East Cape is tens of thousands of times bigger. The slide occurred on a slope about the same height as Mt Cook. Blocks, some larger than Mt Ruapehu (18 kilometres wide), travelled nearly 50 kilometres out across a completely flat abyssal floor. Fortunately, it probably happened more than 155,000 years ago. It is thought that the slope may have been destabilised by a volcanic seamount on the Pacific Plate carried along towards and under the Australian Plate.

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Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

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How to cite this page:

Keith Lewis, Scott D. Nodder and Lionel Carter, 'Sea floor geology - Continental slopes, canyons and landslides', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 April 2024)

Story by Keith Lewis, Scott D. Nodder and Lionel Carter, published 12 Jun 2006