Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Earthquakes triggered by silent slip events on Kīlauea volcano, Hawaii

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 09 November 2006

Abstract

Slow-slip events, or ‘silent earthquakes’, have recently been discovered in a number of subduction zones including the Nankai trough1,2,3 in Japan, Cascadia4,5, and Guerrero6 in Mexico, but the depths of these events have been difficult to determine from surface deformation measurements. Although it is assumed that these silent earthquakes are located along the plate megathrust, this has not been proved. Slow slip in some subduction zones is associated with non-volcanic tremor7,8, but tremor is difficult to locate and may be distributed over a broad depth range9. Except for some events on the San Andreas fault10, slow-slip events have not yet been associated with high-frequency earthquakes, which are easily located. Here we report on swarms of high-frequency earthquakes that accompany otherwise silent slips on Kīlauea volcano, Hawaii. For the most energetic event, in January 2005, the slow slip began before the increase in seismicity. The temporal evolution of earthquakes is well explained by increased stressing caused by slow slip, implying that the earthquakes are triggered. The earthquakes, located at depths of 7–8 km, constrain the slow slip to be at comparable depths, because they must fall in zones of positive Coulomb stress change. Triggered earthquakes accompanying slow-slip events elsewhere might go undetected if background seismicity rates are low. Detection of such events would help constrain the depth of slow slip, and could lead to a method for quantifying the increased hazard during slow-slip events, because triggered events have the potential to grow into destructive earthquakes.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Displacements and inferred slip zones for four silent slip events.
Figure 2: Temporal association of deformation and seismicity.
Figure 3: Cumulative number of earthquakes compared to that predicted for a slip event by equation (3).
Figure 4: Earthquake locations in relation to Coulomb stress change due to fault slip.
Figure 5: Dislocation at a depth of 8 km fits the GPS data well.

References

  1. Hirose, H., Hirahara, K., Kimata, F., Fujii, N. & Miyazaki, S. A slow thrust slip event following the two 1996 Hyuganada earthquakes beneath the Bungo Channel, southwest Japan. Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 3237–3240 (1999)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ozawa, S. et al. Detection and monitoring of ongoing aseismic slip in the Tokai region, central Japan. Science 298, 1009–1012 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Miyazaki, S., McGuire, J. & Segall, P. A transient subduction zone slip episode in southwest Japan observed by the nationwide GPS array. J. Geophys. Res. 108, 2087–2087 (2003)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Dragert, H., Wang, K. L. & James, T. S. A silent slip event on the deeper Cascadia subduction interface. Science 292, 1525–1528 (2001)

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Miller, M. M., Melbourne, T., Johnson, D. J. & Sumner, W. Q. Periodic slow earthquakes from the Cascadia subduction zone. Science 295, 2423–2423 (2002)

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Kostoglodov, V. et al. A large silent earthquake in the Guerrero seismic gap, Mexico. Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, 1807–1810 (2003)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Rogers, G. & Dragert, H. Episodic tremor and slip on the Cascadia subduction zone: The chatter of silent slip. Science 300, 1942–1943 (2003)

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Obara, K., Hirose, H., Yamamizu, F. & Kasahara, K. Episodic slow slip events accompanied by non-volcanic tremors in southwest Japan subduction zone. Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L23602, doi:10.1029/2004GL020848 (2004)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kao, H. et al. A wide depth distribution of seismic tremors along the northern Cascadia margin. Nature 436, 841–844 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Linde, A., Gladwin, M., Johnston, M., Gwyther, R. & Bilham, R. A slow earthquake sequence on the San Andreas fault. Nature 383, 65–68 (1996)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cervelli, P., Segall, P., Johnson, K., Lisowski, M. & Miklius, A. Sudden aseismic fault slip on the south flank of Kilauea volcano. Nature 415, 1014–1018 (2002)

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Segall, P., Desmarais, E., Miklius, A. & Okubo, P. (Nearly) silent earthquakes on volcanoes. Trans. AGU Fall Meet. Suppl. 86(52), G43A-01 (2005)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Brooks, B., Foster, J., Bevis, M., Frazer, L. & Behn, M. Slow earthquakes on the flank of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Trans. AGU Fall Meet. Suppl. 86(52), G53B-0879 (2005)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Dieterich, J. A constitutive law for rate of earthquake production and its application to earthquake clustering. J. Geophys. Res. 99, 2601–2618 (1994)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Got, J., Frechet, J. & Klein, F. Deep fault plane geometry inferred from multiplet relative relocation beneath the south flank of Kilauea. J. Geophys. Res. 99, 15375–15386 (1994)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Got, J.-L. & Okubo, P. New insights into Kilauea's volcano dynamics brought by large scale relative relocation of microearthquakes. J. Geophys. Res. 108, 2337–2350 (2003)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hansen, S., Thurber, C., Mandernach, M., Haslinger, F. & Doran, C. Seismic velocity and attenuation structure of the East Rift Zone and south flank of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 94, 1430–1440 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Waldhauser, F. & Ellsworth, W. L. A double-difference earthquake location algorithm: method and application to the Northern Hayward Fault, California. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 90, 1353–1368 (2000)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Nettles, M. & Ekstrom, G. Long-period source characteristics of the 1975 Kalapana, Hawaii, earthquake. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 94, 422–429 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Owen, S. & Burgmann, R. An increment of volcano collapse: Kinematics of the 1975 Kalapana, Hawaii, earthquake. J. Volcan. Geotherm. Res. 150, 163–185 (2006)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ma, K.-F., Kanamori, H. & Satake, K. Mechanism of the 1975 Kalapana, Hawaii, earthquake inferred from tsunami data. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 13153–13168 (1999)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Delaney, P. et al. Volcanic spreading at Kilauea, 1976–1996. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 18003–18023 (1998)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Owen, S. et al. Rapid deformation of Kilauea volcano: Global positioning system measurements between 1990 and 1996. J. Geophys. Res. 105, 18983–18998 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Liu, Y. & Rice, J. R. Aseismic slip transients emerge spontaneously in 3d rate and state modeling of subduction earthquake sequences. J. Geophys. Res. 110, B08307, doi:10.1029/2004JB003424 (2005)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. Kato, N. Interaction of slip on asperities: Numerical simulation of seismic cycles on a two-dimensional planar fault with nonuniform frictional property. J. Geophys. Res. 109, B12306, doi:10.1029/2004JB003001 (2004)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Segall, P., Cervelli, P. & Miklius, A. Insights from deformation during the Pu'u O'o eruption of Kilauea volcano. Eos Trans. AGU Fall Meet. Suppl. 83 (47), abstr. V62C-02 (2002)

  27. Cervelli, P., Murray, M., Segall, P., Aoki, Y. & Kato, T. Estimating source parameters from deformation data, with an application to the March 1997 earthquake swarm off the Izu Peninsula, Japan. J. Geophys. Res. 106, 11217–11238 (2001)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge C. Thurber for providing seismic data from the University of Wisconsin 1999/2000 experiment, P. Okubo for help with HVO seismic data, the University of Hawaii for exchange of GPS data, and D. Swanson for editorial comments. Author Contributions P.S. and E.K.D. jointly modelled GPS and seismic data. P.S. derived the seismicity rate results. D.S. relocated the earthquakes. A.M. processed GPS data and first detected the events studied. P.C. helped with time-dependent slip inversion. All authors discussed results and commented on manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Cervelli.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Segall, P., Desmarais, E., Shelly, D. et al. Earthquakes triggered by silent slip events on Kīlauea volcano, Hawaii. Nature 442, 71–74 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04938

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04938

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing