Volcano seismology

Pure and Applied Geophysics



A fundamental goal of volcano seismology is to understand active magmatic systems, to characterize the configuration of such systems, and to determine the extent and evolution of source regions of magmatic energy. Such understanding is critical to our assessment of eruptive behavior and its hazardous impacts. With the emergence of portable broadband seismic instrumentation, availability of digital networks with wide dynamic range, and development of new powerful analysis techniques, rapid progress is being made toward a synthesis of high-quality seismic data to develop a coherent model of eruption mechanics. Examples of recent advances are: (1) high-resolution tomography to image subsurface volcanic structures at scales of a few hundred meters; (2) use of small-aperture seismic antennas to map the spatio-temporal properties of long-period (LP) seismicity; (3) moment tensor inversions of very-long-period (VLP) data to derive the source geometry and mass-transport budget of magmatic fluids; (4) spectral analyses of LP events to determine the acoustic properties of magmatic and associated hydrothermal fluids; and (5) experimental modeling of the source dynamics of volcanic tremor. These promising advances provide new insights into the mechanical properties of volcanic fluids and subvolcanic mass-transport dynamics. As new seismic methods refine our understanding of seismic sources, and geochemical methods better constrain mass balance and magma behavior, we face new challenges in elucidating the physico-chemical processes that cause volcanic unrest and its seismic and gas-discharge manifestations. Much work remains to be done toward a synthesis of seismological, geochemical, and petrological observations into an integrated model of volcanic behavior. Future important goals must include: (1) interpreting the key types of magma movement, degassing and boiling events that produce characteristic seismic phenomena; (2) characterizing multiphase fluids in subvolcanic regimes and determining their physical and chemical properties; and (3) quantitatively understanding multiphase fluid flow behavior under dynamic volcanic conditions. To realize these goals, not only must we learn how to translate seismic observations into quantitative information about fluid dynamics, but we also must determine the underlying physics that governs vesiculation, fragmentation, and the collapse of bubble-rich suspensions to form separate melt and vapor. Refined understanding of such processes—essential for quantitative short-term eruption forecasts—will require multidisciplinary research involving detailed field measurements, laboratory experiments, and numerical modeling.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Volcano seismology
Series title Pure and Applied Geophysics
DOI 10.1007/PL00012556
Volume 160
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 50 p.
First page 739
Last page 788
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