Seismological aspects of the 1989-1990 eruptions at redoubt volcano, Alaska: the SSAM perspective

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

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SSAM is a simple and inexpensive tool for continuous monitoring of average seismic amplitudes within selected frequency bands in near real-time on a PC-based data acquisition system. During the 1989-1990 eruption sequence at Redoubt Volcano, the potential of SSAM to aid in rapid identification of precursory Long-Period (LP) event swarms was realized, and since this time SSAM has been incorporated in routine monitoring efforts of the Alaska Volcano Observatory. In particular, an eruption that occurred on April 6 was successfully forecast primarily on the basis of recognizing the precursory LP activity on SSAM. Of twenty-two significant eruptions that occurred between December 14 and April 21, eleven had precursory swarms longer than one hour in duration that could be detected on SSAM. For individual swarms, the patterns of relative spectral amplitudes are distinct at each station and remain largely stationary through time, thus indicating that one source may have been preferentially and repeatedly activated throughout the swarm. Typically, a single spectral band dominates the signal at each seismic station: for the vigorous one-day swarm that preceded the first eruption on December 14, signals were sharply peaked in the 1.9-2.7 Hz band at the closest station, located 4 km from the vent, but were dominated by 1.3-1.9 Hz energy at three more distant stations located 7.5-22 km from the vent. The tendency for the signals from different swarms recorded at the same station to be peaked in the same frequency band suggests that all of the sources are characterized by a predominant length scale. Signals from the precursory LP swarms became weaker as the eruption sequence progressed, and swarms that occurred in March and April could only be detected at seismographs on the volcanic edifice. Onset times of precursory LP swarms prior to eruptions ranged from a few hours to about one week, but after the initial vent-clearing phase that ended December 19 these intervals tended to become progressively shorter for successive swarms. These trends in the relative onset times and intensities of successive precursory LP swarms are consistent with an overall depressurization of the magmatic system through time. In general, each of the swarms had an emergent onset, but the intensities did not always increase steadily until the eruptions. Instead, as the time of an eruption approached the intensity usually increased more rapidly before peaking and then declining prior to the eruption; for three of the swarms, two distinct peaks in intensity were apparent. The time intervals between final peaks in swarm intensity and ensuing eruptions ranged from about 2 hours to almost 2 days, but the peaks always occurred closer to the eruptions than to the swarm onsets. Both the onset of LP swarm activity and a decline in intensity prior to an eruption may represent critical points in the process of pressurization that drives the flow of fluids and gas in a sealed magmatic system. A notable exception to this pattern is the eruption of March 9 which lacked a detectable precursory LP swarm, but was followed by an unusually long period of strong LP seismicity that may have been stimulated by a depressurization of the magmatic system resulting from dome failure. On both December 14 and January 2, the spectra of early syn-eruptive signals have peaked signatures much like those of the spectra of precursory LP activity from shortly before the eruptions; these similarities may indicate that the source of precursory seismicity continued to be active during at least the early part of each eruption. In syn-eruptive signals from March and April recorded at stations on the volcanic edifice, the dominant spectral energy progressively shifts with time during the eruption to lower frequencies; at least part of the energy in these signals may have been generated by the debris flows associated with dome failures. ?? 1994.

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Seismological aspects of the 1989-1990 eruptions at redoubt volcano, Alaska: the SSAM perspective
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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
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