Mega-landslides: imminent hazard or sleeping giants? Monitoring the landslide hazard related to ongoing volcanic activity around El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain


Grant No.:

W244-12, 2012-2013

Grant Agency:

International project: National Geographic Society and Waitt Grant program

Resolved in:

2012 - 2013

Principal investigator:

Mgr. Jan Blahůt, Ph.D., Department of Ingineering Geology, IRSM AS CR, v.v.i.


RNDr. Jan Klimeš, Ph.D., Department of Engineering Geology, IRSM AS CR, v.v.i.
Dr. J. Yepes, University of Gran Canaria, Spain
Dr. I. Galindo Jimenéz, IGME, Spain


Coastal and submarine landslides around volcanic islands are the largest known mass movements on Earth. Canary Islands in Spain are one of the places where they regularly occurred during last 300 thousand years, also triggering several tsunamis. In summer 2011 intense seismic activity begun and continues along a volcanic rift on the El Hierro island, the youngest and most tectonically active island of the archipelago. The aim of the project is to establish a monitoring of potential mega-landslides, which may be reactivated due to the seismic activity. Precise crack gauges will be used to detect movements on the shear planes and acquired data will be analyzed in near-real time. The results of the project will provide new findings about the behavior of mega-landslides and their dynamics in relation to recent seismic activity. New insights into local earthquake prediction will be gained from the detailed information relating to rock deformation, seismic activity, and volcanic eruptions. The examined hazard impacts on the local population will be also examined. The project findings will potentially have great significance for ongoing research into high magnitude but low frequency landslide hazards elsewhere.