- Open Access
Short-term spatial change in a volcanic tremor source during the 2011 Kirishima eruption
© The Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences (SGEPSS); The Seismological Society of Japan; The Volcanological Society of Japan; The Geodetic Society of Japan; The Japanese Society for Planetary Sciences; TERRAPUB. 2012
Received: 1 December 2011
Accepted: 4 September 2012
Published: 7 May 2013
Volcanic tremors are indicators of magmatic behavior, which is strongly related to volcanic eruptions and activity. Detection of spatial and temporal variations in the source location is important for understanding the mechanism of volcanic eruptions. However, short-term temporal variations within a tremor event have not always been detected by seismic array observations around volcanoes. Here, we show that volcanic tremor sources were activated at both the top (i.e., the crater) and the lower end of the conduit, by analyzing seismograms from a dense seismic array 3 km from the Shinmoedake crater, Kirishima volcano, Japan. We observed changes in the seismic ray direction during a volcanic tremor sequence, and inferred two major sources of the tremor from the slowness vectors of the approaching waves. One was located in a shallow region beneath the Shinmoedake crater. The other was found in a direction N30°W from the array, pointing to a location above a pressure source. The fine spatial and temporal characteristics of volcanic tremors suggest an interaction between deep and shallow conduits.
Volcanic tremors are commonly observed around active volcanoes, and occur in the conduit system between the magma chamber and crater. The duration of most volcanic tremors is much longer than an ordinary tectonic earthquake, and the signal frequency comprises fundamental, and harmonic, oscillations (McNutt, 2005). Based on seismic observations, numerous studies have modeled the mechanical source of volcanic tremors (e.g., Julian, 1994; Chouet et al., 1997; Hellweg, 2000; Jellinek and Bercovici, 2011). Seismic array observations that use slowness analysis of seismic waves are a powerful tool for locating the origin of tremors. In particular, array analyses using the multiple signal classification (MUSIC) technique (Schmidt, 1986; Kikuma, 1999) have revealed the properties of mag-matic activity in volcanic regions (Goldstein and Chouet, 1994).
2. Slowness Analysis of Volcanic Tremors
After the start of the eruption, a seismic array was urgently deployed on 29 January, 2011, along a road 3 km from the Shinmoedake crater in the direction N115°W. Twenty-five 3-component seismometers with a natural frequency of 2 Hz were installed at a sensor interval of 20–40 m. The location and shape of the array, and array response functions at 2 Hz, are shown in Fig. 1. Data was sampled every 1 ms by a recording system controlled by a GPS-calibrated clock. In this study, we use seismograms recorded by 23 of the 25 sensors with good signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios. We also installed a broadband seismometer at the center of the seismic array (KU.KRSY in Fig. 1).
3. Estimated P-, and Surface, Wave Slowness
4. Origin of the Volcanic Tremor
Next, we investigate the variation in slowness within the part of the seismic ray originating from the direction of the crater. Figure 2(b) displays the cross-section in the slowness-time domain for a fixed azimuth of 65°. Generally, the slowness varies from 0.15 to 1.0 s/km. We divide the seismogram into five types, according to the detailed slowness and ray directions of the tremor. These are wavelets from the crater with slowness values (s) of approximately (W) s < 0.42 (P-wave slowness); (X) 0.42 ≤ s < 1.0; (Y) s = 1.0 s/km (surface wave slowness); and (Z) from the direction N30°W. The waves (X) are S-waves because the slowness exceeds that for P-waves. The slowness variation corresponds to the change in the source depth and/or the wave type. The waves categorized as (W) and (X) probably travelled from the source at depths at-, and below, the location of the explosion source. The source for the waves (Y) is probably located close to the surface of the crater because the waves propagated at surface wave speeds. As seen in Fig. 2(b), the sequence of the tremor occurrence has an interesting feature, in that wave type (Y) seems to follow the occurrence of the tremor with types (W) and (X).
5. Discussion and Summary
Volcanic tremors are phenomena commonly observed worldwide. Magma behavior is of great importance for monitoring and predicting volcanic activity. Our results have revealed part of this behavior, implying that dense seismic array observations with a high sampling rate can contribute to our understanding of volcanic activity and contribute to the prediction of eruptions. However, a multi-array analysis, which we were unable to conduct in this study, is required to determine the exact location of the tremor source and the conduit geometry. In addition, geodetic observation is also needed to monitor magma behavior. Such comprehensive observations will enable further understanding of the behavior of volcanic eruptions.
We wish to thank Edoardo Del Pezzo and the anonymous reviewer for their comments, which helped to improve the manuscript. We are grateful for the assistance of Kyushu University during the temporary observations. This study was partially supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 24540457.
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