Imaging Seismic Source Variations Using Back-Projection Methods at El Tatio Geyser Field, Northern Chile

Monday, 15 December 2014: 10:50 AM
Cyndi L Kelly, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States and Jesse Fisher Lawrence, Stanford University, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States
During October 2012, 51 geophones and 6 broadband seismometers were deployed in an ~50x50m region surrounding a periodically erupting columnar geyser in the El Tatio Geyser Field, Chile. The dense array served as the seismic framework for a collaborative project to study the mechanics of complex hydrothermal systems. Contemporaneously, complementary geophysical measurements (including down-hole temperature and pressure, discharge rates, thermal imaging, water chemistry, and video) were also collected.

Located on the western flanks of the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 4200m, El Tatio is the third largest geyser field in the world. Its non-pristine condition makes it an ideal location to perform minutely invasive geophysical studies. The El Jefe Geyser was chosen for its easily accessible conduit and extremely periodic eruption cycle (~120s). During approximately 2 weeks of continuous recording, we recorded ~2500 nighttime eruptions which lack cultural noise from tourism. With ample data, we aim to study how the source varies spatially and temporally during each phase of the geyser’s eruption cycle. We are developing a new back-projection processing technique to improve source imaging for diffuse signals. Our method was previously applied to the Sierra Negra Volcano system, which also exhibits repeating harmonic and diffuse seismic sources. We back-project correlated seismic signals from the receivers back to their sources, assuming linear source to receiver paths and a known velocity model (obtained from ambient noise tomography). We apply polarization filters to isolate individual and concurrent geyser energy associated with P and S phases. We generate 4D, time-lapsed images of the geyser source field that illustrate how the source distribution changes through the eruption cycle. We compare images for pre-eruption, co-eruption, post-eruption and quiescent periods. We use our images to assess eruption mechanics in the system (i.e. top-down vs. bottom-up) and determine variations in source depth and distribution in the conduit and larger geyser field over many eruption cycles.