Glacial Earthquakes

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Science  24 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5645, pp. 622-624
DOI: 10.1126/science.1088057

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We have detected dozens of previously unknown, moderate earthquakes beneath large glaciers. The seismic radiation from these earthquakes is depleted at high frequencies, explaining their nondetection by traditional methods. Inverse modeling of the long-period seismic waveforms from the best-recorded earthquake, in southern Alaska, shows that the seismic source is well represented by stick-slip, downhill sliding of a glacial ice mass. The duration of sliding in the Alaska earthquake is 30 to 60 seconds, about 15 to 30 times longer than for a regular tectonic earthquake of similar magnitude.

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