Open Access

Observation of numerous aftershocks of an Mw 1.9 earthquake with an AE network installed in a deep gold mine in South Africa

  • Yasuo Yabe12Email author,
  • Joachim Philipp22,
  • Masao Nakatani32,
  • Gilbert Morema42,
  • Makoto Naoi32,
  • Hironori Kawakata52,
  • Toshihiro Igarashi32,
  • Georg Dresen62,
  • Hiroshi Ogasawara52 and
Earth, Planets and Space200961:BF03352963

Received: 30 September 2009

Accepted: 4 November 2009

Published: 24 November 2009


This is the first report from the JAGUARS (JApanese-German Underground Acoustic Emission Research in South Africa) project, the overall aim of which is to observe ultra-small fracturing in a more or less natural environment. We installed a local (40-m span) network of eight acoustic emission (AE) sensors, which have the capability to observe up to 200 kHz at a depth of 3.3 km in a South African gold mine. Our specific objective was to monitor a 30-m thick dyke that remains as a dip pillar against active mining 90 m above our network. An Mw 1.9 earthquake whose hypocenter was 30 m above the network occurred in the dyke. Although the mineowned geophone (4.5 Hz) network detected only five earthquakes in the surrounding 200×200×150-m3 volume within the first 150 h following the main shock, our AE network detected more than 20,000 earthquakes in the same period. More than 13,000 of these formed a distinct planar cluster (100×80 m2) on which the main shock hypocenter lay, suggesting that this cluster delineates the main shock rupture plane. Most of the aftershocks were presumably very small, probably as low as M −4. The aftershock cluster dipped 60°. This is consistent with normal faulting under a nearly vertical compression field, as indicated by nearly horizontal breakouts found in a borehole crossing the rupture plane.

Key words

Semi-controlled earthquake generation experimentacoustic emissionmining-induced earthquakedeep South African gold minesaftershocksmain shock rupture plane