Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Shallow repeating seismic events under an alpine glacier at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA

  • Weston A. Thelen (a1), Kate Allstadt (a2), Silvio De Angelis (a2), Stephen D. Malone (a2), Seth C. Moran (a1) and John Vidale (a2)...

Abstract

We observed several swarms of repeating low-frequency (1–5 Hz) seismic events during a 3 week period in May–June 2010, near the summit of Mount Rainier, Washington, USA, that likely were a result of stick–slip motion at the base of alpine glaciers. The dominant set of repeating events (‘multiplets’) featured >4000 individual events and did not exhibit daytime variations in recurrence interval or amplitude. Volcanoes and glaciers around the world are known to produce seismic signals with great variability in both frequency content and size. The low-frequency character and periodic recurrence of the Mount Rainier multiplets mimic long-period seismicity often seen at volcanoes, particularly during periods of unrest. However, their near-surface location, lack of common spectral peaks across the recording network, rapid attenuation of amplitudes with distance, and temporal correlation with weather systems all indicate that ice-related source mechanisms are the most likely explanation. We interpret the low-frequency character of these multiplets to be the result of trapping of seismic energy under glacial ice as it propagates through the highly heterogeneous and attenuating volcanic material. The Mount Rainier multiplet sequences underscore the difficulties in differentiating low-frequency signals due to glacial processes from those caused by volcanic processes on glacier-clad volcanoes.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Shallow repeating seismic events under an alpine glacier at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Shallow repeating seismic events under an alpine glacier at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Shallow repeating seismic events under an alpine glacier at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Aki, K and Richards, PG (2002) Quantative seismology, 2nd edn. University Science Books, Sausalito, CA
Allen, RV (1978) Automatic earthquake recognition and timing from single traces. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 68(5), 15211532
Caplan-Auerbach, J and Huggel, C (2007) Precursory seismicity associated with frequent, large ice avalanches on Iliamna volcano, Alaska, USA. J. Glaciol., 53(180), 128140 (doi: 10.3189/172756507781833866)
Caplan-Auerbach, J, Thelen, WA and Moran, SC (2009) An unusual cluster of low-frequency earthquakes at Mount Baker, Washington, as detected by a local broadband network. [Abstract V23D2111] Am. Geophys. Union, Fall Meet. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009AGUFM.V23D2111C
Chouet, BA (1996) Long-period volcano seismicity: its source and use in eruption forecasting. Nature, 380(6572), 309316 (doi: 10.1038/380309a0)
Danesi, S, Bannister, S and Morelli, A (2007) Repeating earthquakes from rupture of an asperity under an Antarctic outlet glacier. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 253(1–2), 151158 (doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2006.10.023)
Dewberry, SR and Crosson, RS (1995) Source scaling and moment estimation for the Pacific Northwest seismograph network using S-coda amplitudes. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 85(5), 1309
Driedger, CL and Kennard, PM (1986) Ice volumes on Cascade volcanoes: Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Three Sisters, and Mount Shasta. (USGS Prof. Pap. 1365) US Geological Survey, Reston, VA
Driedger, CL and Moore, ST (1986) A visitor’s guide to Mount Rainier glaciers. Pacific Northwest National Parks and Forests Association, Seattle, WA
Ekström, G, Nettles, M and Abers, GA (2003) Glacial earthquakes. Science, 302(5645), 622624 (doi: 10.1126/science.1088057)
Ewert, JW, Guffanti, M and Murray, TL (2005) An assessment of volcanic threat and monitoring capabilities in the United States: framework for a national volcano early warning system. USGS Open File Rep. 2005-1164.
Finn, CA, Sisson, TW and Deszcz-Pan, M (2001) Aerogeophysical measurements of collapse-prone hydrothermally altered zones at Mount Rainier volcano. Nature, 409(6820), 600603 (doi: 10.1038/35054533)
Fountain, AG and Walder, JS (1998) Water flow through temperate glaciers. Rev. Geophys., 36(3), 299328 (doi: 10.1029/97RG03579)
Frank, D (1995) Surficial extent and conceptual model of hydrothermal system at Mount Rainier, Washington. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 65(1–2), 5180 (doi: 10.1016/0377-0273(94)00081-Q)
Frémont, M-J and Malone, SD (1987) High precision relative locations of earthquakes at Mount St. Helens, Washington. J. Geophys. Res., 92(B10), 10 22310 236 (doi: 10.1029/JB092iB10p10223)
Fudge, TJ, Harper, JT, Humphrey, NF and Pfeffer, WT (2009) Rapid glacier sliding, reverse ice motion and subglacial water pressure during an autumn rainstorm. Ann. Glaciol., 50(52), 101108 (doi: 10.3189/172756409789624247)
Geller, RJ and Mueller, CS (1980) Four similar earthquakes in central California. Geophys. Res. Lett., 7(10), 821824 (doi: 10.1029/GL007i010p00821)
Harper, JT, Humphrey, NF, Pfeffer, WT and Lazar, B (2007) Two modes of accelerated glacier sliding related to water. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34(12), L12503 (doi: 10.1029/2007GL030233)
Hoblitt, RP, Walder, JS, Driedger, CL, Scott, KM, Pringle, PT and Vallance, JW (1995) Volcano hazards from Mount Rainier, Washington. USGS Open File Rep. 95-273
Hodge, SM (1974) Variations in the sliding of a temperate glacier. J. Glaciol., 13(69), 349369
Jónsdóttir, K and 6 others (2009) Glacial long period seismic events at Katla volcano, Iceland. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36(11), L11402 (doi: 10.1029/2009GL038234)
Lahr, JC, Chouet, BA, Stephens, CD, Power, JA and Page, RA (1994) Earthquake classification, location, and error analysis in a volcanic environment: implications for the magmatic system of the 1989–1990 eruptions at redoubt volcano, Alaska. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 62(1–4), 137151 (doi: 10.1016/0377-0273(94)90031-0)
Lesage, Ph and Surono (1995) Seismic precursors of the February 10, 1990 eruption of Kelut volcano, Java. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 65(1–2), 135146 (doi: 10.1016/0377-0273(94)00051-H)
Luckett, R, Loughlin, S, De Angelis, S and Ryan, G (2008) Volcanic seismicity at Montserrat, a comparison between the 2005 dome growth episode and earlier dome growth. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 177(4), 894902 (doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores. 2008.07.006)
Malone, S and Haulter, A (2003) How glacier-quakes can mimic low-frequency volcanic earthquake seismograms. [Abstract 12833] EGS–AGU–EUG Joint Assembly http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003eaeja….12833m
Métaxian, J-P, Araujo, S, Mora, M and Lesage, P (2003) Seismicity related to the glacier of Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(9), 1483 (doi: 10.1029/2002GL016773)
Moran, SC, Zimbelman, DR and Moran, SD (2000) A model for the magmatic–hydrothermal system at Mount Rainier, Washington, from seismic and geochemical observations. Bull. Volcanol., 61(7), 425436 (doi: 10.1007/PL00008909)
Moran, SC, Thelen, WA, Caplan-Auerbach, J, Malone, SD and Wright, A (2009) An anomalous swarm of low-frequency events at Mount Baker, Washington, June–August 2009. [Abstract V23D-2112] Am. Geophys. Union Fall Meet. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009AGUFM.V23D2112M
Neave, KG and Savage, JC (1970) Icequakes on the Athabasca Glacier. J. Geophys. Res., 75(8), 13511362 (doi: 10.1029/JB075i008p01351)
Nettles, M and 12 others (2008) Step-wise changes in glacier flow speed coincide with calving and glacial earthquakes at Helheim Glacier, Greenland. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35(24), L24503 (doi: 10.1029/2008GL036127)
Petersen, T (2007) Swarms of repeating long-period earthquakes at Shishaldin Volcano, Alaska, 2001–2004. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 166(3–4), 177192 (doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2007.07.014)
Qamar, A (1988) Calving icebergs: a source of low-frequency seismic signals from Columbia Glacier, Alaska. J. Geophys. Res., 93(B6), 66156623 (doi: 10.1029/JB093iB06p06615)
Ratdomopurbo, A and Poupinet, G (1995) Monitoring a temporal change of seismic velocity in a volcano: application to the 1992 eruption of Mt. Merapi (Indonesia). Geophys. Res. Lett., 22(7), 775778 (doi: 10.1029/95GL00302)
Roux, P-F, Marsan, D, Metaxian, J-P, O’Brien, G and Moreau, L (2008) Microseismic activity within a serac zone in an alpine glacier (Glacier d’Argentière, Mont Blanc, France). J. Glaciol., 54(184), 157168 (doi: 10.3189/002214308784409053)
Rowe, CA, Aster, RC, Borchers, B and Young, CJ (2002) An automatic, adaptive algorithm for refining phase picks in large seismic data sets. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 92(5), 16601674 (doi: 10.1785/0120010224)
St Lawrence, W and Qamar, A (1979) Hydraulic transients: a seismic source in volcanoes and glaciers. Science, 203(4381), 654656 (doi: 10.1126/science.203.4381.654)
Sisson, TW and Vallance, JW (2009) Frequent eruptions of Mount Rainier over the last 2,600 years. Bull. Volcanol., 71(6), 595618 (doi: 10.1007/s00445-008-0245-7)
Swanson, DA, Malone, SD and Samora, BA (1992) Mount Rainier: a decade volcano. Eos, 73(16), 177186 (doi: 10.1029/91EO00143)
Thelen, WA, Crosson, RS and Creager, KC (2008) Absolute and relative locations of earthquakes at Mount St. Helens, Washington, using continuous data: implications for magmatic processes. In Sherrod, DR, Scott, WE and Stauffer, PH eds. A volcano rekindled: the renewed eruption of Mount St. Helens, 2004–2006. US Geological Survey, Denver, CO, 7195 (USGS Prof. Pap. 1750)
Thelen, W, West, M and Senyukov, S (2010) Seismic characterization of the fall 2007 eruptive sequence at Bezymianny Volcano, Russia. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 194(4), 201213 (doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.05.010)
Waite, GP, Chouet, BA and Dawson, PB (2008) Eruption dynamics at Mount St. Helens imaged from broadband seismic waveforms: interaction of the shallow magmatic and hydrothermal systems. J. Geophys. Res. , 113(B2), B02305 (doi: 10.1029/2007JB005259)
Walter, F, Deichmann, N and Funk, M (2008) Basal icequakes during changing subglacial water pressures beneath Gornergletscher, Switzerland. J. Glaciol., 54(186), 511521 (doi: 10.3189/002214308785837110)
Weaver, CS and Malone, SD (1976) Mt. Saint Helens seismic events: volcanic earthquakes or glacial noises? Geophys. Res. Lett., 3(3), 197200 (doi: 10.1029/GL003i003p00197)
Weaver, CS and Malone, SD (1979) Seismic evidence for discrete glacier motion at the rock–ice interface. J. Glaciol., 23(89), 171184
West, ME, Larsen, CF, Truffer, M, O’Neel, S and LeBlanc, L (2010) Glacier microseismicity. Geology, 38(4), 319322 (doi: 10.1130/G30606.1)
Wiens, DA, Anandakrishnan, S, Winberry, JP and King, MA (2008) Simultaneous teleseismic and geodetic observations of the stick– slip motion of an Antarctic ice stream. Nature, 453(7196), 770774 (doi: 10.1038/nature06990)
Winberry, JP, Anandakrishnan, S, Alley, RB, Bindschadler, RA and King, MA (2009) Basal mechanics of ice streams: insights from the stick–slip motion of Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 114(F1), F01016 (doi: 10.1029/2008JF001035)
Wolf, LW and Davies, JN (1986) Glacier-generated earthquakes from Prince William Sound, Alaska. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 76(2), 367379
Wolf, LW, Rowe, CA and Horner, RB (1997) Periodic seismicity near Mt. Ogden on the Alaska–British Columbia border: a case for hydrologically triggered earthquakes? Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 87(6), 14731483

Shallow repeating seismic events under an alpine glacier at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA

  • Weston A. Thelen (a1), Kate Allstadt (a2), Silvio De Angelis (a2), Stephen D. Malone (a2), Seth C. Moran (a1) and John Vidale (a2)...

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed