PerspectiveGeophysics

Shaking up volcanoes

Science  04 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6192, pp. 39
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256196

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Summary

Most volcanic eruptions that occur shortly after a large distant earthquake do so by random chance. A few compelling cases for earthquake-triggered eruptions exist, particularly within 200 km of the earthquake, but this phenomenon is rare in part because volcanoes must be poised to erupt in order to be triggered by an earthquake (1). Large earthquakes often perturb volcanoes in more subtle ways by triggering small earthquakes and changes in spring discharge and groundwater levels (1, 2). On page 80 of this issue, Brenguier et al. (3) provide fresh insight into the interaction of large earthquakes and volcanoes by documenting a temporary change in seismic velocity beneath volcanoes in Honshu, Japan, after the devastating Tohoku-Oki earthquake in 2011.