Marine Geological Hazards

Marine geohazards are geological conditions at the sea floor or within sub-bottom sediments that, if unrecognized, could result in dangerous or catastrophic events with attendant risks to life and/or infrastructure. Examples of such hazards include earthquakes and submarine landslides that can trigger tsunamis, iceberg scouring of the seabed, and gas migration or build-up that can leading to locally overpressurized sediments and potential terrain instability and/or blowouts. Scientific knowledge of the severity and frequency of re-occurrence of these marine geohazards enables mitigation of the risk to communities, infrastructure and the environment. Regulatory agencies need this information for managing the development of offshore oil and gas resources.

NRCan’s mandate includes the provision of science-based evidence of geological hazards or hazardous conditions to enhance public safety and inform decision making for natural resource development. Our marine geologists, sedimentologists, seismologists and GIS technologists work together to conduct ship-based geological and geophysical surveys to improve the scientific understanding of these natural geological phenomena. The work is conducted in collaboration with the Canadian Hydrographic Service, with the shared goal to produce detailed maps and images of the seafloor using multibeam sonar technology. Sub-bottom stratigraphic information derived from acoustic surveys and modern sediment coring and logging techniques allow reconstruction of the geological history of marine basins, including records of past catastrophic events. General geohazard potentials are identified through broad regional surveys, after which a more detailed understanding may be developed through targeted studies of particular geohazards in specific areas.

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