When we talk about avalanches, we often use terms like, “skier-triggered, soft slab, and avalanche danger.”
However, one historic slide is bucking those traditional terms and is instead broadening our definition of avalanches. According to American Geophysical Union, avalanches can actually occur underwater with a recent incident off the California serving as a mind-blowing example of how avalanches shape our landscape both above the water’s surface– and below.
In their report, the AGU indicated that the underwater avalanche (*also referred to as a Turbidity Current) happened off the coast of California back in January and ran approximately 31 miles to the ocean floor, travelling at a rate of 18 miles/hour. The significance of the event is not in its rarity but the ability of scientists to monitor these events using cutting edge sensors they refer to as “smart boulders.” These sensors were literally engulfed in the underwater avalanche and were able to transmit in-depth data points to researchers who in turn are using the information to study the sedimentology of the sea.
Find the entire report here: AGU – Monterey Coordinated Canyon Experiment