Turbidity currents, submarine landslides and the 2006 Pingtung earthquake off SW Taiwan

Shu Kun Hsu, Jackie Kuo, Chung Liang Lo, Ching Hui Tsai, Wen Bin Doo, Chia Yen Ku, Jean Claude Sibuet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Submarine landslides or slumps may generate turbidity currents consisting of mixture of sediment and water. Large and fast-moving turbidity currents can incise and erode continental margins and cause damage to artificial structures such as telecommunication cables on the seafloor. In this study, we report that eleven submarine cables across the Kaoping canyon and Manila trench were broken in sequence from 1500 to 4000 m deep, as a consequence of submarine landslides and turbidity currents associated with the 2006 Pingtung earthquakes offshore SW Taiwan. We have established a full-scale scenario and calculation of the turbidity currents along the Kaoping canyon channel from the middle continental slope to the adjacent deep ocean. Our results show that turbidity current velocities vary downstream ranging from 20 to 3.7 and 5.7 m s-1, which demonstrates a positive relationship between turbidity current velocity and bathymetric slope. The violent cable failures happened in this case evidenced the destructive power of the turbidity current to seafloor or underwater facilities that should not be underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-772
Number of pages6
JournalTerrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Cable break
  • Pingtung earthquake
  • Submarine landslide
  • SW Taiwan
  • Turbidity current


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