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Laboratory Simulation of Volcano Seismicity

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Science  10 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5899, pp. 249-252
DOI: 10.1126/science.1161927

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Abstract

The physical processes generating seismicity within volcanic edifices are highly complex and not fully understood. We report results from a laboratory experiment in which basalt from Mount Etna volcano (Italy) was deformed and fractured. The experiment was monitored with an array of transducers around the sample to permit full-waveform capture, location, and analysis of microseismic events. Rapid post-failure decompression of the water-filled pore volume and damage zone triggered many low-frequency events, analogous to volcanic long-period seismicity. The low frequencies were associated with pore fluid decompression and were located in the damage zone in the fractured sample; these events exhibited a weak component of shear (double-couple) slip, consistent with fluid-driven events occurring beneath active volcanoes.

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