“Exploring the Solar System in the search for mega landslides.”
PhD project title:
The formation mechanism of long runout landslides on planetary bodies.
Long runout landslides are an intriguing landscape-forming process that occur throughout the Solar System. They are characterized by high mobility that exceed the one predicted by the kinematic of friction and gravity. Many different processes have been invoked to explain hypermobility for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial events. Nevertheless, the physical processes are still poorly understood and there is not a generally accepted mechanism for predicting extreme travel distances.
On Earth, the study of long runout landslides can help mitigating the risk to life and infrastructure. On Mars, it can contribute to the understanding of climate and geological evolution of the planet and, as well as on the Moon, it can reveal being important in dating key geological processes. Understanding these landslides on other planetary bodies not only expands the number of features for study, but also provides environmental constraints not necessarily known for Earth.
This project will address the question of how long runout landslides initiate and propagate. This will involve a combination of in situ analysis for terrestrial deposits, the latest high-resolution remote sensing data for the Moon and Mars, mechanics of granular matter and rock physics experiments.
This project will also be co-supervised by Harrison Schmitt (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Liran Goren (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) & Gerald Roberts (Birkbeck, University of London).