Recurring Swarms of Deep Long Period Earthquakes in the Denali Volcanic Gap Suggest a Continuation of Volcanic Processes in the Absence of Active Volcanism

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Stephen G Holtkamp1, Natalia A Ruppert1, Vipul Silwal1, Douglas H Christensen1 and Christopher J Nye2, (1)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (2)Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Fairbanks, AK, United States
Seismicity in the northern segment of the Denali Volcanic Gap clusters bimodally with depth, with dense clusters of earthquakes occurring in the subducting slab at >100 km depth beneath Denali, and within the crust north of the Denali fault at <20 km depth. On January 22, 2014, the Alaska Earthquake Center recorded a Deep Long Period earthquake (DLP), magnitude 1.7, at 40 km depth north of the Denali Fault. The epicenter for this event was <5 km of broadband station TRF, so the depth is well constrained. The DLP event is almost devoid of energy above 5 Hz. Receiver functions for stations TRF and SBL, both <10 km of the epicenter, show Moho depths of 36-40 km.

We used waveforms of this DLP as a template event for network matched filtering, which identifies similar signals in continuous time series. We processed this template event from June 1999 to July 2014. We use several matches produced by this template as additional templates, iterating the process. Using this methodology, we identify over 300 DLP’s. Events typically come in swarms lasting hours to days with no events exceeding magnitude 2. Swarms are separated by months to years of little detectable activity. A swarm of events on June 30, 2001 coincides with the Broadband Experiment Across the Alaska Range (BEAAR) seismic deployment, and was recorded by 15 broadband seismometers within 100 km of the epicenter. A preliminary waveform inversion for the focal mechanism of this event results in isotropic (implosive) and double couple components.

We argue that these DLP’s are evidence of magmatic or volatile movement through the sub-arc mantle wedge, even though there is no active volcanism at the surface. Relative relocations, utilizing cross correlated p- and s- waveforms, highlight a nest of seismicity with no structures such as planes or conduits. Lack of planar features, as well as the isotopic component and lack of strike slip to the focal mechanism, may argue against a deep extension of the Hines Creek or Denali faults (both strike-slip) as a source for the DLP’s (as is the case for low frequency earthquakes along the deep extension of the San Andreas). High Poisson’s ratios have been inferred for the sub-arc mantle wedge by McNamera and Pasyanos (2002), and in the crust north of Denali (Rossi et al., 2006), suggesting the presence of volatiles or magma migrating through to the crust.