The dynamics of magma deep in the Earth’s crust are difficult to capture by geophysical monitoring. Since May 2018, a seismically quiet area offshore of Mayotte in the western Indian Ocean has been affected by complex seismic activity, including long-duration, very-long-period signals detected globally. Global Navigation Satellite System stations on Mayotte have also recorded a large surface deflation offshore. Here we analyse regional and global seismic and deformation data to provide a one-year-long detailed picture of a deep, rare magmatic process. We identify about 7,000 volcano-tectonic earthquakes and 407 very-long-period seismic signals. Early earthquakes migrated upward in response to a magmatic dyke propagating from Moho depth to the surface, whereas later events marked the progressive failure of the roof of a magma reservoir, triggering its resonance. An analysis of the very-long-period seismicity and deformation suggests that at least 1.3 km3 of magma drained from a reservoir of 10 to 15 km diameter at 25 to 35 km depth. We demonstrate that such deep offshore magmatic activity can be captured without any on-site monitoring.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Nature+
Get immediate online access to the entire Nature family of 50+ journals
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Seismic data used in this study pertain to networks II48, IU49, GE50, G51, PF52 and RA53 and are available at IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), GEOFON (GEO-FOrschungsNetz), ORFEUS EIDA (Observatories and Research Facilities for European Seismology—European Integrated Data Archive) and/or the Réseau Sismologique et Géodésique Français (French seismological and geodetic network, RESIF53) web services. Geodetic data are available at the web facilities of the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory, at the University of Nevada, Reno54.
All codes used in this work are open source. The codes used to generate individual results are available through the contact information from the original publications. Requests for further materials should be directed to S.C.
Lemoine, A. et al. The volcano-tectonic crisis of 2018 east of Mayotte, Comoros Islands. Preprint at https://doi.org/10.31223/osf.io/d46xj (2019).
Ohiminato, T. et al. Waveform inversion of very-long-period impulsive signals associated with magmatic injection beneath Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. J. Geophys. Res. 103, 839–862 (1998).
Kumagai, H. & Chouet, B. A. Acoustic properties of a crack containing magmatic or hydrothermal fluids. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 105, 25493–25512 (2000).
Scrutton, R. A. et al. Constraints on the motion of Madagascar with respect to Africa. Mar. Geol. 43, 1–20 (1981).
Phethean, J. et al. Madagascar’s escape from Africa: a high-resolution plate reconstruction for the western Somali Basin and implications for supercontinent dispersal. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 17, 5036–5055 (2016).
Reeves, C. The position of Madagascar within Gondwana and its movements during Gondwana dispersal. J. Afr. Earth Sci. 94, 45–57 (2014).
Geiger, M. et al. Reappraisal of the timing of the breakup of Gondwana based on sedimentological and seismic evidence from the Morondava Basin, Madagascar. J. Afr. Earth Sci. 38, 363–381 (2004).
Coffin, M. & Rabinowitz, P. D. Reconstruction of Madagascar and Africa: evidence from the Davie Fracture Zone and western Somali Basin. J. Geophys. Res. 92, 9385–9406 (1987).
Jokat, W. et al. Timing and geometry of early Gondwana breakup. J. Geophys. Res. https://doi.org/10.1029/2002JB001802 (2003).
Leinweber, V. T. & Jokat, W. The jurassic history of the Africa—Antarctica corridor—new constraints from magnetic data on the conjugate continental margins.Tectonophysics 530, 87–101 (2012).
Mahanjane, E. S. A geotectonic history of the northern Mozambique Basin including the Beira High—a contribution for the understanding of its development. Mar. Petrol. Geol. 36, 1–12 (2012).
Mahanjane, E. S. The Davie Fracture Zone and adjacent basins in the offshore Mozambique Marginn—a new insights for the hydrocarbon potential. Mar. Petrol. Geol. 57, 561–571 (2014).
Emerick, C. & Duncan, R. Age progressive volcanism in the Comores Archipelago, western Indian Ocean and implications for Somali plate tectonics. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 60, 415–428 (1982).
Nougier, J. et al. The Comores archipelago in the western Indian Ocean: volcanology geochronology and geodynamic setting. J. Afr. Earth Sci. 5, 135–145 (1986).
Michon, L. in Active Volcanoes of the Southwest Indian Ocean (eds Bachelery, P., Lénat, J.-F., Di Muro, A. & Michon, L.) 233–244 (Springer, 2016).
Audru, J. et al. Major natural hazards in a tropical volcanic island: a review for Mayotte Island, Comores archipelago, Indian Ocean. Eng. Geol. 114, 364–381 (2010).
Delvaux, D. & Barth, A. African stress pattern from formal inversion of focal mechanism data. Tectonophysics 482, 105–128 (2010).
Stamps, D. S. et al. Geodetic strain rate model for the east African rift system. Sci. Rep. 8, 732 (2018).
Cesca, S. et al. Seismic Catalogues of the 2018–2019 Volcano-seismic Crisis Offshore Mayotte (GFZ Data Services, 2019).
Feuillet, N. MAYOBS1 Cruise, RV Marion Dufresne (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 2019); https://doi.org/10.17600/18001217
Kumagai, H. et al. Magmatic dike resonances inferred from very-long-period seismic signals. Science 299, 2058–2061 (2003).
Aster, R. et al. Very long period oscillations of Mount Erebus volcano. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth https://doi.org/10.1029/2002JB002101 (2003).
Talandier, J. et al. Unusual seismic activity in 2011 and 2013 at the submarine volcano rocard, Society hot spot (French Polynesia). Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 4247–4254 (2016).
Nikkhoo, M. et al. Compound dislocation models (CDMs) for volcano deformation analyses. Geophys. J. Int. 208, 877–894 (2017).
Heimann, S. et al. Grond—a probabilistic earthquake source inversion framework. V. 1.0. GFZ Data Services, http://pyrocko.org/grond/docs/current/ (2018).
Davis, P. M. Surface deformation due to inflation of an arbitrarily oriented triaxial ellipsoidal cavity in an elastic half-space, with reference to Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 91, 7429–7438 (1986).
Uhira, K. & Toriyama, N. Meeting with the May 29, 2015 eruption of Kuchinoerabujima volcano. Bull. Volcanol. Soc. Jpn. 60, 487–490 (2015).
Sigmundsson, F. et al. Segmented lateral dyke growth in a rifting event at Bárðarbunga volcanic system, Iceland. Nature 517, 191–195 (2015).
White, R. & McCausland, W. Volcano-tectonic earthquakes: a new tool for estimating intrusive volumes and forecasting eruptions. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 309, 139–155 (2016).
Hayashi, Y. & Morita, Y. An image of a magma intrusion process inferred from precise hypocentral migrations of the earthquake swarm east of the Izu peninsula. Geophys. J. Int 153, 159–174 (2003).
Passarelli, L. et al. Stress changes, focal mechanisms, and earthquake scaling laws for the 2000 dike at Miyakejima (Japan). J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 120, 4130–4145 (2015).
Ruch, J. et al. Oblique rift opening revealed by reoccurring magma injection in central Iceland. Nat. Commun. 7, 12352 (2016).
Ágústsdóttir, T. et al. Strike‐slip faulting during the 2014 Bárðarbunga‐Holuhraun dike intrusion, central Iceland. Geophys. Res. Lett. 43, 1495–1503 (2016).
Wadge, G. The variation of magma discharge during basaltic eruptions. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 11, 139–168 (1981).
Ferrazzini, V. & Aki, K. Slow waves trapped in a fluid-filled infinite crack: implication for volcanic tremor. J. Geophys. Res. 92, 9215–9223 (1987).
Chouet, B. Long-period volcano seismicity: its source and use in eruption forecasting. Nature 380, 6572 (1996).
Maeda, Y. & Kumagai, H. A generalized equation for the resonance frequencies of a fluid-filled crack. Geophys. J. Int. 209, 192–201 (2017).
Kumagai, H. et al. Very-long period seismic signals and caldera formation at Miyake Island, Japan. Science 293, 687–690 (2001).
Kobayashi, T. et al. Very long period seismic signals observed before the caldera formation with the 2000 Miyakejima volcanic activity, Japan. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth https://doi.org/10.1029/2007JB005557 (2009).
Kobayashi, T. et al. Intermittent inflations recorded by broadband seismometers prior to the caldera formation at Miyake-jima volcano in 2000. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 357-358, 145–151 (2012).
Munekane, H. et al. Mechanisms of step-like tilt changes and very long period seismic signals during the 2000 Miyakejima eruption: insights from kinematic GPS. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 121, 2932–2946 (2016).
Fontaine, F. R. et al. Very- and ultra-long-period seismic signals prior to and during caldera formation on La Reunion Island. Sci. Rep. 9, 8068 (2019).
Acocella, V. Understanding caldera structure and development: an overview of analogue models compared to natural calderas. Earth-Sci. Rev. 85, 125–160 (2007).
Levy, S. et al. Mechanics of fault reactivation before, during, and after the 2015 eruption of axial seamount. Geology 46, 447–450 (2018).
Jónsdóttir, K. et al. Evaluating changes of the Bárdarbunga caldera using repeating earthquakes. AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts, 2017, S22C-07 (2017).
Cesca, S. & Heimann, S. in Moment Tensor Solutions: A Useful Tool for Seismotectonics (ed. D’Amico, S.) 163–181, (Springer, 2018).
Geshi, N. et al. Evaluating volumes for magma chambers and magma withdrawn for caldera collapse. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 396, 107–115 (2014).
Global Seismograph Network - IRIS/IDA (GSN) (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks, 1986); https://doi.org/10.7914/SN/I
Global Seismograph Network—IRIS/USGS (GSN) (International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks, 1988); https://doi.org/10.7914/SN/IU
The GE Seismic Network (GEOFON Data Centre, 1993); https://doi.org/10.14470/tr560404
GEOSCOPE (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre de Strasbourg, 1982); https://doi.org/10.18715/geoscope.g
Piton de la Fournaise Volcano Observatory Network (Reunion Island) (OVPF) (FDSN, accessed 01 Aug 2019); https://www.fdsn.org/networks/detail/PF/
RESIF-RAP Accelerometric Permanent Network (RESIF, RESIF-RAP French Accelerometric Network, 1995); https://doi.org/10.15778/RESIF.RA
Blewitt, G., Hammond, W. C. & Kreemer, C. Harnessing the GPS data explosion for interdisciplinary science. Eos https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO104623 (2018).
The discovery of the underwater volcano is a result of the MAYOBS 1 campaign that took place from 2 to 19 May, 2019 aboard the Marion Dufresne oceanographic vessel. This campaign was conducted by several French research institutions and laboratories (IPGP/CNRS/BRGM/IFREMER/IPGS) as part of a CNRS-INSU programme20. We thank CNRS-INSU for making public the location and size of the discovered volcano. M.I. thanks H. Sudhaus for her valuable contribution and acknowledges funding by the German Research Foundation DFG through an Emmy Noether Young Researcher Grant (no. 276464525). G.P. is funded by the German Research Foundation DFG project (no. 362440331), a subproject of “SPP 2017: Mountain Building Processes in 4D” (project number no. 313806092). We thank T. James and T. Davis for revising the English text.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Primary Handling Editors: Stefan Lachowycz; Melissa Plail.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Cesca, S., Letort, J., Razafindrakoto, H.N.T. et al. Drainage of a deep magma reservoir near Mayotte inferred from seismicity and deformation. Nat. Geosci. 13, 87–93 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0505-5
Communications Earth & Environment (2022)
Monochromatic Rayleigh Waves of a Period Around 15 s Recorded from Long-Period Earthquakes at the East of Mayotte, North Mozambique Channel, and Characteristics of Oscillations at the Source
Pure and Applied Geophysics (2022)
Observation of the long-period monotonic seismic waves of the November 11, 2018, Mayotte event by Iranian broadband seismic stations
Earth, Planets and Space (2021)
Bulletin of Volcanology (2021)
Detecting the effects of rapid tectonically induced subsidence on Mayotte Island since 2018 on beach and reef morphology, and implications for coastal vulnerability to marine flooding
Geo-Marine Letters (2021)