Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Early Holocene Greenland-ice mass loss likely triggered earthquakes and tsunami

Steffen, Rebekka; Steffen, Holger; Weiss, Robert; Lecavalier, Benoit S.; Milne, Glenn A.; Woodroffe, Sarah A.; Bennike, Ole

Early Holocene Greenland-ice mass loss likely triggered earthquakes and tsunami Thumbnail


Rebekka Steffen

Holger Steffen

Robert Weiss

Benoit S. Lecavalier

Glenn A. Milne

Ole Bennike


Due to their large mass, ice sheets induce significant stresses in the Earth's crust. Stress release during deglaciation can trigger large-magnitude earthquakes, as indicated by surface faults in northern Europe. Although glacially-induced stresses have been analyzed in northern Europe, they have not yet been analyzed for Greenland. We know that the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced a large melting period in the early Holocene, and so here, we analyze glacially-induced stresses during deglaciation for Greenland for the first time. Instability occurs in southern Greenland, where we use a combined analysis of past sea level indicators and a model of glacially-induced fault reactivation to show that deglaciation of the Greenland Ice Sheet may have caused a large magnitude earthquake or a series of smaller magnitude earthquakes around 10,600 years ago offshore south-western Greenland. The earthquake(s) may have shifted relative sea level observations by several meters. If the earthquake-induced stress release was created during a single event, it could have produced a tsunami in the North Atlantic Ocean with runup heights of up to 7.2 m in the British Isles and up to 7.8 m along Canadian coasts.


Steffen, R., Steffen, H., Weiss, R., Lecavalier, B. S., Milne, G. A., Woodroffe, S. A., & Bennike, O. (2020). Early Holocene Greenland-ice mass loss likely triggered earthquakes and tsunami. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 546, Article 116443.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 10, 2020
Publication Date 2020-09
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 14, 2020
Journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Print ISSN 0012-821X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 546
Article Number 116443


You might also like

Downloadable Citations