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The trigger mechanism of low-frequency earthquakes on Montserrat.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

  • Juergen W Neuberg
  • Hugh Tuffen
  • Lindsey Collier
  • David Green
  • Tanya Powell
  • Donald B Dingwell
Journal publication date2006
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Volume153
Number of pages14
Pages37-50
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

A careful analysis of low-frequency seismic events on Soufrie`ere Hills volcano, Montserrat, points to a source mechanism that is non-destructive, repetitive, and has a stationary source location. By combining these seismological clues with new field evidence and numerical magma flow modelling, we propose a seismic trigger model which is based on brittle failure of magma in the glass transition. Loss of heat and gas from the magma results in a strong viscosity gradient across a dyke or conduit. This leads to a buildup of shear stress near the conduit wall where magma can rupture in a brittle manner, as field evidence from a rhyolitic dyke demonstrates. This brittle failure provides seismic energy, the majority of which is trapped in the conduit or dyke forming the lowfrequency coda of the observed seismic signal. The trigger source location marks the transition from ductile conduit flow to friction-controlled magma ascent. As the trigger mechanism is governed by the depth-dependent magma parameters, the source location remains fixed at a depth where the conditions allow brittle failure. This is reflected in the fixed seismic source locations.