Mapping pressurized volcanic fluids from induced crustal seismic velocity drops

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Science  04 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6192, pp. 80-82
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254073

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Seismic noise reveals volcanic plumbing

Monitoring the way in which seismic noise passes through Earth's crust after a large earthquake can clarify how volcanoes erupt. Japan has the highest-density seismic network in the world. Brenguier et al. observed reductions in seismic velocity below volcanic regions of Japan from before, to the weeks and months after the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake (see the Perspective by Prejean and Haney). This indicates that pressurized fluids below volcanoes can weaken in response to dynamic stress perturbations.

Science, this issue p. 80; see also p. 39


Volcanic eruptions are caused by the release of pressure that has accumulated due to hot volcanic fluids at depth. Here, we show that the extent of the regions affected by pressurized fluids can be imaged through the measurement of their response to transient stress perturbations. We used records of seismic noise from the Japanese Hi-net seismic network to measure the crustal seismic velocity changes below volcanic regions caused by the 2011 moment magnitude (Mw) 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. We interpret coseismic crustal seismic velocity reductions as related to the mechanical weakening of the pressurized crust by the dynamic stress associated with the seismic waves. We suggest, therefore, that mapping seismic velocity susceptibility to dynamic stress perturbations can be used for the imaging and characterization of volcanic systems.

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