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GeoHazards@UGent

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Earthquakes

Christchurch 2015 - damage of 2011 EQ

We characterize earthquake-triggered deposits (underwater landslides, turbidites) in marine and lake sediments, in order to use them for paleoseismic reconstructions. Understanding earthquake recurrence patterns – on time scales that are longer than the period of historical documentation – is crucial to estimate the current seismic hazard of a region. While our focus is on subduction settings, we also work in active rifts, in strike-slip environments and in low-seismicity intraplate environments.

Study areas

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Active tectonics

We map and interpret active tectonic structures, such as synsedimentary faults in marine and lacustrine basins, using geophysical tools such as (high-resolution) reflection seismics, side-scan sonar imagery and multibeam bathymetry. Often these are tectonic basins, e.g. pull-apart basins in strike-slip environments. Furthermore, we examine co-, post- and inter-seismic tectonic deformation using satellite interferometry (InSAR).

Study areas

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Underwater landslides

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Historical and prehistoric underwater landslides can be triggered by a variety of processes, and pose a tsunami hazard for coastal communities independent of the triggering mechanism. Such underwater landslides may be seismically-triggered and can then be used for paleoseismic reconstructions, but they can also be linked to e.g. changes in water level and can then be used for paleoclimate studies.

Study areas

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Volcanic activity

We reconstruct (pre)historical activity of volcanoes by studying volcanogenic layers that are deposited in lake sediments, such as tephra air-fall and lahar deposits. While distal deposits of major regional eruptions can help to determine the size of these catastrophic events, proximal deposits of nearby volcanoes allow to reconstruct a complete eruptive history of those volcanoes. Lahars, or volcanic mud flows, often pose the main hazard for communities near volcanic edifices.

Study areas

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Tsunamis

We study tsunami deposits in coastal lakes along active subduction zones. As a tsunami overflows beaches and dunes, it erodes and transports their sands, which can then be deposited in coastal lakes. By detecting, characterizing and dating these sand layers, we can reconstruct the tsunami history of region. Understanding the patterns of prehistoric tsunami recurrence – often linked to earthquake recurrence – allows to better estimate the current tsunami hazard for coastal communities.

Study areas

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© Imperial College London/Chase Stone

Floods

Different types of floods can leave their traces in the sedimentary record. In glaciated regions we reconstruct the history of glacial-lake outburst floods by studying their deposits in river plains, lakes and fjords. However, in these and other settings also flash floods, triggered by autumn storms, cause turbidites in lake sediments. As global warming is thought to increase the frequency of extreme climatic events such as floods, a better understanding of their past occurrence allows to produce improved hazard assessments.

Study areas

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Droughts

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Lake systems are very susceptible to extreme droughts, as such “events” strongly influence their water balance, while also the dust flux often increases (depending on the environment). We study extreme droughts in tropical regions using grain-size, mineralogical and geochemical analyses, as well as lake-level reconstructions based on seismic data. As global warming is thought to increase the frequency of extreme climatic events, such as extreme droughts, a better understanding of their past occurrence allows to produce improved hazard assessments.

Study areas

Staff and publications

Prof. Dr. Marc De Batist

Prof. Dr. Marc De Batist

Sedimentary geologist who has been investigating marine and especially lacustrine sediment archives as recorders of past fault activity, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other geohazards for more than 25 years.

E-mail: Marc.DeBatist@UGent.be

URL: ResearcherID

+32 (0)9 264 4587

Prof. Dr. Sébastien Bertrand

Prof. Dr. Sébastien Bertrand

Paleoclimatologist and sediment geochemist interested in Holocene climate variability and associated environmental changes, with a particular focus on southern South America. His research includes the reconstruction of flood intensity, volcanic eruptions, and seismic activity, based on lake and fjord sediments.

E-mail: Sebastien.Bertrand@UGent.be

URL: ResearcherID

+32 (0)9 264 4637

Inka Meyer

Dr. Inka Meyer

Sedimentologist interested in characterizing the clastic fraction deposited in lacustrine and marine sediments. By using grain size, mineralogy and other proxies the source and transport pathways of the clastic fraction can be fingerprinted and are used to identify climatic events, like droughts, floods and storms in the sedimentary record.

E-mail: Inka.Meyer@UGent.be

+32 (0)9 264 4637

Dr. Maarten Van Daele

Dr. Maarten Van Daele

Sedimentologist with focus on turbidite sedimentology in lakes and other (semi)enclosed basins. Calibration of turbidite characteristics for their qualitative and quantitative use in mostly paleoseismic records, but also flood and lahar records. Particular analytical interest in X-ray (micro) computed tomography (CT).

E-mail: Maarten.VanDaele@UGent.be

URL: ResearcherID

+32 (0)9 264 4573

Evelien Boes

Evelien Boes

Limnogeologist, who is mainly interested in the imprint of past tsunamis on lacustrine archives along the coast of Japan, Chile and Thailand, and has previously worked on varved lake records from south-central Alaska.

E-mail: Evelien.Boes@UGent.be

+32 (0)9 264 4573

Zakaria Ghazoui

Zakaria Ghazoui

Sedimentologist and paleoseismologist interested in Himalayan Middle–Late Holocene earthquakes, with a particular focus on western Nepal. His research includes the reconstruction of past earthquake activity based on core lake sediments and Peak Ground Acceleration/Intensity map generation.

E-mail: Zakaria.Ghazoui@UGent.be

+32 (0)9 264 4637

Nore Praet

Nore Praet

Paleoseismologist, who studies turbidites and landslides in Alaskan lake sediments with help of seismic stratigraphy, multibeam data and sediment cores.

E-mail: Nore.Praet@UGent.be

+32 (0)9 264 4573

Elke Vandekerkhove

Elke Vandekerkhove

Sedimentologist, who is studying the impact of climate variability on the frequency and magnitude of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Patagonia. By examining sediment cores, the late Holocene GLOF occurrence can be generated and compared to existing climate records to assess such possible relationships.

E-mail: Elke.Vandekerkhove@UGent.be

+32 (0)9 264 4590

Katleen Wils

Katleen Wils

Seismologist focussing on co- and interseismic deformation along the Chilean coastline using InSAR data and modelling to assess coastal lake stability for paleoseismological and paleotsunami research. Previously constructed a landslide-based record of past earthquakes in a Chilean fjord and inferred the implications for seismic hazard assessment by using ground-motion modelling.

E-mail: Katleen.Wils@UGent.be

+32 (0)9 264 4573

Alumni

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