Letter | Published:

Long-period earthquakes and co-eruptive dome inflation seen with particle image velocimetry

Nature volume 456, pages 377381 (20 November 2008) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Dome growth and explosive degassing are fundamental processes in the cycle of continental arc volcanism1,2. Because both processes generate seismic energy, geophysical field studies of volcanic processes are often grounded in the interpretation of volcanic earthquakes3. Although previous seismic studies have provided important constraints on volcano dynamics4,5,6, such inversion results do not uniquely constrain magma source dimension and material properties. Here we report combined optical geodetic and seismic observations that robustly constrain the sources of long-period volcanic earthquakes coincident with frequent explosive eruptions at the volcano Santiaguito, in Guatemala. The acceleration of dome deformation, extracted from high-resolution optical image processing, is shown to be associated with recorded long-period seismic sources and the frequency content of seismic signals measured across a broadband network. These earthquake sources are observed as abrupt subvertical surface displacements of the dome, in which 20–50-cm uplift originates at the central vent and propagates at 50 m s-1 towards the 200-m-diameter periphery. Episodic shifts of the 20–80-m thick dome induce peak forces greater than 109 N and reflect surface manifestations of the volcanic long-period earthquakes, a broad class of volcano seismic activity that is poorly understood and observed at many volcanic centres worldwide7. On the basis of these observations, the abrupt mass shift of solidified domes, conduit magma or magma pads may play a part in generating long-period earthquakes at silicic volcanic systems.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the many personnel involved with instrumentation preparation and field work, including R. Sanderson, O. Marcillo, M. Hort, E. Sanchez, W. Rose, M. Ruiz, R. Salguero and staff at IRIS PASSCAL and INSIVUMEH (Guatemala). This project was made possible by the US National Science Foundation EAR grants 0440225 and 0440054.

Author Contributions J.B.J. performed the PIV and seismic analysis and wrote the paper with assistance from D.S. J.M.L. carried out the synthetic waveform modelling. A.G. and N.V. contributed to model development and data collection and analysis.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico 87801, USA

    • Jeffrey B. Johnson
  2. Geological Sciences, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA

    • Jonathan M. Lees
  3. Institute for Geophysics, University of Hamburg, Hamburg 20146, Germany

    • Alexander Gerst
  4. Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18015, USA

    • Dork Sahagian
  5. Facultad de Ciencias, University of Colima, Colima 28045, Mexico

    • Nick Varley

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeffrey B. Johnson.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Description relating to video files s2-s8, a Supplementary Discussion, Supplementary References and Supplementary Figures 1 and 2 with Legends.

Videos

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Video 1

    This video of Event1 Jan12 14 49.mpg shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by an animation of the corresponding dome surface uplift as quantified through PIV. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Video 2

    This video of Event2 Jan12 14 06.mpg shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by an animation of the corresponding dome surface uplift as quantified through PIV. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Video 3

    This video of Event3 Jan12 13 25.mpg shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by an animation of the corresponding dome surface uplift as quantified through PIV. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

  4. 4.

    Supplementary Video 4

    This video of Event4 Jan12 16 50.mpg shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by an animation of the corresponding dome surface uplift as quantified through PIV. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

  5. 5.

    Supplementary Video 5

    This video of Event5 Jan12 15 11.mpg | shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by an animation of the corresponding dome surface uplift as quantified through PIV. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

  6. 6.

    Supplementary Video 6

    This video of Event4jerk Jan12 16 50.mpg | shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by detail of dome surface movement. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

  7. 7.

    Supplementary Video 7

    This video of Event5jerk Jan12 15 11.mpg | shows a Santiaguito eruptive event followed by detail of dome surface movement. More information about this animation can be found in Supplementary Methods.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07429

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