Gigantic submarine landslide offshore western Tasmania

Risk mitigation for shelf-derived tsunami in Australia
Voyage No


24 Mar, 2023


30 Apr, 2023




Chief Scientist

Dr Martin Jutzeler


University of Tasmania

Voyage summary

Research voyage out of Hobart, travelling to the west coast of Tasmania to investigate a gigantic submarine (underwater) landslide on the continental shelf.

The continental shelf off the west coast of Tasmania consists of a smooth, 20-40 km wide shelf, indented by numerous small canyons. However, over 50 km of continental shelf shows an abrupt headscarp failure (collapse) associated with a gigantic submarine (underwater) landslide deposit. Scientists will survey the surface and sub-surface of the failed and unfailed deposits to understand how, when and why this underwater landslide happened. These data will be used to identify if such an event could occur nearby or in other places on the Australian shelf and establish hazard mitigation maps for Australia.

These data will be supplemented by seafloor habitat and biology surveys to increase understanding of marine biodiversity in the region and factors controlling its distribution. In addition, scientists will investigate the composition of the continental shelf to infer onshore prospective rock formations.

This research will help in risk assessment and mitigation for shelf-derived tsunami that could impact Australian coastal communities.

There are two other projects on this voyage:

  • Argo float deployments: deployment of 2 standard Argo floats (Dr Gabriela Pilo, CSIRO). 
  • Investigation of unidentified shipwreck: systematic (bathymetric) mapping and camera inspection of an unidentified shipwreck in region (Mr Craig Davey, CSIRO).

The voyage will be led by Chief Scientist Dr Martin Jutzeler from the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Ore Deposit and Earth Sciences (CODES). It is being delivered in collaboration with the University of Sydney along with several other universities and research bodies.

The voyage has 30 science participants from 8 institutions, including 4 Australian and one international university (Utrecht University , Netherlands) and Minerals Resources Tasmania (Tasmanian Government).

COVID Protocols

To safeguard the health and well-being of participants, strict COVID protocols apply to all activities on this voyage. This includes 2-phase PCR testing of all participants for COVID prior to boarding the vessel.

Wreck of MV Blythe Star located after 50 years

A CSIRO project team aboard our research vessel (RV) Investigator has confirmed the resting place of the MV Blythe Star.

Locating Blythe Star