Geohazards and Earth Processes Research Group
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Ice-tsunamis is an informal term to describe tsunamis generated by ice masses. Ice masses split or shed from a glacier or an ice sheet through the so-called mechanism “calving”. The frequency and size of calving ice masses is relevant for ice sheet mass balance of ice covered areas such as Greenland or the Antarctic, and to understand sea level rise. If the ice mass calves in a water body, tsunamis of tens of meters or even larger may be generated, which poses a hazard for coastal communities (Greenland), tourists and the fishing, shipping and Oil & Gas industries.

Ice-tsunamis are often simple called “landslide-tsunamis” and past ice-tsunamis were successfully recreated with the landslide-tsunami hazard assessment method introduced by Dr Heller and collaborators (Heller et al. 2009; Heller and Hager 2010, 2011). 

Ice calving2

Ice Tsunamis


However, in many cases the characteristics of ice-tsunamis is different from typical landslide-tsunamis because ice is lighter than water and because ice calving mechanisms are very diverse (fall, overturning, upwards movement of submerged masses, etc.).

Dr Heller and his team are interested in the characterisation of individual extreme ice calving events and in the associated ice-tsunami risk. Ongoing work includes both laboratory experiments and computer simulations. A test campaign is funded by the EU HYDRALAB+ consortium where Dr Heller leads a team consisting of scientists based in 5 EU countries to conduct large scale laboratory ice-tsunami tests in a 50 m × 50 m large water basin.


  • Tsunamis due to ice masses: Different calving mechanisms and linkage to landslide-tsunamis. Funded by HYDRALAB+
  • Modelling of tsunamis generated by ice calving. Nottingham Summer Engineering Research Placement 2016. Funded by the Faculty of Engineering.
  • Experimental and numerical investigation of tsunamis caused by ice calving. PhD study. Funded by the China Scholarship Council and the University of Nottingham.


Geohazards and Earth Processes

Nottingham Geospatial Building
Jubilee Campus
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2TU

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 15445

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