Swarms of similar long-period earthquakes in the mantle beneath Mauna Loa Volcano

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
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We present analyses of two swarms of long-period (LP) earthquakes at > 30 km depth that accompanied the geodetically observed 2002–2005 Mauna Loa intrusion. The first LP earthquake swarm in 2002 consisted of 31 events that were precursory and preceded the start of Mauna Loa inflation; the second LP swarm of two thousand events occurred from 2004–2005. The rate of LP earthquakes slowed significantly coincident with the occurrence of the December 26, 2004 Mw 9.3 Sumatra earthquake, suggesting that the seismic waves from this great earthquake may have had a dynamic triggering effect on the behavior of Mauna Loa's deep magma system. Using waveform cross correlation and double difference relocation, we find that a large number of earthquakes in each swarm are weakly similar and can be classified into two families. The relocated hypocenters for each family collapse to compact point source regions almost directly beneath the Mauna Loa intrusion. We suggest that the observed waveform characteristics are compatible with each family being associated with the resonance of a single fluid filled vertical crack of fixed geometry, with differences in waveforms between events being produced by slight variations in the trigger mechanism. If these LP earthquakes are part of the primary magma system that fed the 2002–2005 intrusion, as indicated by the spatial and temporal associations between mantle seismicity and surface deformation, then our results raise the possibility that this magma system may be quite focused at these depths as opposed to being a diffuse network. It is likely that only a few locations of Mauna Loa's deep magma system met the geometric and fluid dynamic conditions for generating LP earthquakes that were large enough to be recorded at the surface, and that much of the deep magma transfer associated with the 2002–2005 intrusion occurred aseismically.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Swarms of similar long-period earthquakes in the mantle beneath Mauna Loa Volcano
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.09.007
Volume 178
Issue 4
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program, Volcano Science Center
Description 8
First page 787
Last page 794
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