Mass flows, turbidity currents and other hydrodynamic consequences of small and moderate earthquakes in the Sea of Marmara

Pierre Henry*, M. Sinan Özeren, Nurettin Yakupoglu, Ziyadin Çakir, Emmanuel De Saint-Léger, Olivier Desprez De Gésincourt, Anders Tengberg, Cristele Chevalier, Christos Papoutsellis, Nazmi Postacloglu, Ugur Dogan, Hayrullah Karabulut, Gülsen Uçarkuş, M. Namlk Çagatay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Earthquake-induced submarine slope destabilization is known to cause mass wasting and turbidity currents, but the hydrodynamic processes associated with these events remain poorly understood. Instrumental records are rare, and this notably limits our ability to interpret marine paleoseismological sedimentary records. An instrumented frame comprising a pressure recorder and a Doppler recording current meter deployed at the seafloor in the Sea of Marmara Central Basin recorded the consequences of a Mw 5.8 earthquake occurring on 26 September 2019 and of a Mw 4.7 foreshock 2 d before. The smaller event caused sediment resuspension and weak current (<4 cm s-1) in the water column. The larger event triggered a complex response involving a debris flow and turbidity currents with variable velocities and orientations, which may have resulted from multiple slope failures. A long delay of 10 h is observed between the earthquake and the passing of the strongest turbidity current. The distance traveled by the sediment particles during the event is estimated to have extended over several kilometers, which could account for a local deposit on a sediment fan at the outlet of a canyon (where the instrument was located), but the sedimentation event did not likely cover the whole basin floor. We show that after a moderate earthquake, delayed turbidity current initiation may occur, possibly by ignition of a cloud of resuspended sediment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3939-3956
Number of pages18
JournalNatural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Pierre Henry et al.


This research has been supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (grant no. ANR-16-CE03-0010-02), the Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu (grant no. 116Y371), and by CNRS-INSU as part of the French contribution to the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory (EMSO) European Research Infrastructure Consortium.

FundersFunder number
Agence Nationale de la RechercheANR-16-CE03-0010-02
Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu116Y371
Institut national des sciences de l'Univers


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