Swarms of repeating long-period earthquakes at Shishaldin Volcano, Alaska, 2001-2004

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research



During 2001–2004, a series of four periods of elevated long-period seismic activity, each lasting about 1–2 months, occurred at Shishaldin Volcano, Aleutian Islands, Alaska. The time periods are termed swarms of repeating events, reflecting an abundance of earthquakes with highly similar waveforms that indicate stable, non-destructive sources. These swarms are characterized by increased earthquake amplitudes, although the seismicity rate of one event every 0.5–5 min has remained more or less constant since Shishaldin last erupted in 1999. A method based on waveform cross-correlation is used to identify highly repetitive events, suggestive of spatially distinct source locations. The waveform analysis shows that several different families of similar events co-exist during a given swarm day, but generally only one large family dominates. A network of hydrothermal fractures may explain the events that do not belong to a dominant repeating event group, i.e. multiple sources at different locations exist next to a dominant source. The dominant waveforms exhibit systematic changes throughout each swarm, but some of these waveforms do reappear over the course of 4 years indicating repeatedly activated source locations. The choked flow model provides a plausible trigger mechanism for the repeating events observed at Shishaldin, explaining the gradual changes in waveforms over time by changes in pressure gradient across a constriction within the uppermost part of the conduit. The sustained generation of Shishaldin's long-period events may be attributed to complex dynamics of a multi-fractured hydrothermal system: the pressure gradient within the main conduit may be regulated by temporarily sealing and reopening of parallel flow pathways, by the amount of debris within the main conduit and/or by changing gas influx into the hydrothermal system. The observations suggest that Shishaldin's swarms of repeating events represent time periods during which a dominant source is activated.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Swarms of repeating long-period earthquakes at Shishaldin Volcano, Alaska, 2001-2004
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2007.07.014
Volume 166
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 16 p.
First page 177
Last page 192
Time Range Start 2001-01-01
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Shishaldin Volcano, Unimak Island, Aleutian Islands
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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