Microearthquakes at St. Augustine Volcano, Alaska, Triggered by Earth Tides

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Science  26 Oct 1973:
Vol. 182, Issue 4110, pp. 386-389
DOI: 10.1126/science.182.4110.386


Microearthquake activity at St. Augustine volcano, located at the mouth of Cook Inlet in the Aleutian Islands, has been monitored since August 1970. Both before and after minor eruptive activity on 7 October 1971, numerous shallow-foci microearthquake swarms were recorded. Plots of the hourly frequency of microearthquakes often show a diurnal peaking of activity. A cross correlation of this activity with the calculated magnitudes of tidal acceleration exhibited two prominent phase relationships. The first, and slightly more predominant, phase condition is a phase delay in the microearthquake activity of approximately 1 hour from the time of maximum tidal acceleration. This is thought to be a direct microearthquake-triggering effect caused by tidal stresses. The second is a phase delay in the microearthquake activity of approximately 5 hours, which correlates well with the time of maximum oceanic tidal loading. Correlation of the individual peaks of swarm activity with defined components of the tides suggests that it may be necessary for tidal stressing to have a preferential orientation in order to be an effective trigger of microearthquakes.