Seismic activity at Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, has been closely monitored since 1989 by a network of five to ten seismometers within 22 km of the volcano's summit. Major eruptions occurred in 1989-1990 and 2009 and were characterized by large volcanic explosions, episodes of lava dome growth and failure, pyroclastic flows, and lahars.
Seismic features of the 1989-1990 eruption were 1) weak precursory tremor and a short, 23-hour-long, intense swarm of repetitive shallow long-period (LP) events centered 1.4 km below the crater floor, 2) shallow volcano-tectonic (VT) and hybrid earthquakes that separated early episodes of dome growth, 3) 13 additional swarms of LP events at shallow depths precursory to many of the 25 explosions that occurred over the more than 128 day duration of eruptive activity, and 4) a persistent cluster of VT earthquakes at 6 to 9 km depth.
In contrast the 2009 eruption was preceded by a pronounced increase in deep-LP (DLP) events at lower crustal depths (25 to 38 km) that began in mid-December 2008, two months of discontinuous shallow volcanic tremor that started on January 23, 2009, a strong phreatic explosion on March 15, and a 58-hour-long swarm of repetitive shallow LP events. The 2009 eruption consisted of at least 23 major explosions between March 23 and April 5, again accompanied by shallow VT earthquakes, several episodes of shallow repetitive LP events and dome growth continuing until mid July. Increased VT earthquakes at 4 to 9 km depth began slowly in early April, possibly defining a mid-crustal magma source zone.
Magmatic processes associated with the 2009 eruption seismically activated the same portions of the Redoubt magmatic system as the 1989-1990 eruption, although the time scales and intensity vary considerably among the two eruptions. The occurrence of precursory DLP events suggests that the 2009 eruption may have involved the rise of magma from lower crustal depths. Based on the evolution of seismicity during the 1989-1990 and 2009 eruptions the Redoubt magmatic system is envisioned to consist of a shallow system of cracks extending 1 to 2 km below the crater floor, a magma storage or source region at roughly 3 to 9 km depth, and a diffuse magma source region at 25 to 38 km depth. Close tracking of seismic activity allowed the Alaska Volcano Observatory to successfully issue warnings prior to many of the hazardous explosive events that occurred in 2009.
Additional publication details
Seismic observations of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska - 1989-2010 and a conceptual model of the Redoubt magmatic system