CAGE professor Jürgen Mienert received an award as guest editor for one of the most cited special issues of Marine Geology in 2016-2017. His international team provided important insights into offshore geohazards.
Text: Maja Sojtaric
This special volume presented the main results of the COSTA project, financed by the European Commission from April 2000 to March 2004. It was amongst the three best-cited Special issues of Marine Geology during the years 2016-2017.
Special Issues are a selected coherent set of papers on a specific, emerging topic.
«Much dedication is needed from the guest editors to assemble a successful volume. The quality and continuing appreciation for a number of contributions in this Special issue is clear, also featuring in well-cited individual papers of Marine Geology over the last few years. » says chief editor of Marine Geology, Professor Gert J. De Lange in an announcement.
Submarine slides can cause tsunamis
A motivation for COSTA was to improve the understanding of rapid and transient changes in continental slope stability leading to offshore geohazards.
Unstable continental slopes can cause submarine slides, which in turn can cause tsunamis. If a large slide event accompanied by a tsunami were to occur the consequences would be devastating for lowland Europe and coastal infrastructures.
“One of the most important questions we had to ask was what is triggering these events? Why are certain areas of the seafloor prone to failure, while nearby areas remain undisturbed? And what is the role of gas hydrates in slope stability?” says professor Mienert at CAGE Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate Environment and Climate.
Progress in answering these major questions depended on a thorough understanding of the sedimentary systems including layers of weakness.
Natural processes and human activity
The scientists in the COSTA investigated continental slope stability along the European continental margin with respect to natural processes and human activity.
Three sectors of European continental slope were examined: Adriatic, Western Mediterranean and North Atlantic. The latter study area is the area of Storegga slide where gas hydrates played a role in destabilizing the sediments.
According to the introduction to this special volume of Marine Geology, the three-year project not only increased the understanding of the frequency and causes of Holocene slope failures, but also the knowledge about the morphological and dynamic characteristics of individual failures such as run-out distances of moving material and their impact areas.
A step towards CAGE
COSTA contributed to better descriptions including models of physical characteristics of glide planes, the role of gas hydrates in slope stability, and excess pore pressure distributions due to earthquakes.
“COSTA was one of the stepping stones on the path to the establishment of CAGE” says Jürgen Mienert who was the director for the first five years of the centre of excellence leading the team to a highly successful mid-term evaluation.