Explosion Quakes: The 2007 Eruption of Pavlof

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Cassandra Smith, Stephen R McNutt and Glenn Thompson, University of South Florida Tampa, Tampa, FL, United States
Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula began to erupt on August 14, 2007 after an 11 year repose. Pavlof is the most active volcano in the Aleutians, with over 40 eruptions in historical times. The 2007 eruption began with low-frequency earthquakes and thermal anomalies. Strombolian activity occurred from a newly formed vent on the SE flank of the volcano. The plume reached 20,000 ft during the peak of the eruption on August 29th and 30th. Seismic activity, monitored by a network of 5 local instruments, consisted of low-frequency events, explosion quakes, volcanic tremor, and lahar-generated signals. Here we focus on explosion quakes. The first explosion quake occurred August 14th at 2:54pm UTC and the last on September 13th at 3:14pm UTC. Explosion events were often embedded in continuous tremor, but could be distinguished by the ground-coupled air waves, which appeared as a high-frequency spike superimposed on the lower-frequency ground waves. Rates were as high as 19 explosion quakes per minute. We establish whether systematic changes in explosion rates, signal properties, and ground-coupled air-wave amplitudes correlate with the height and ash content of the plume. First order trends show a positive correlation between increased explosion quake rates, increased amplitudes, and plume height. In addition, we investigate how atmospheric conditions such as wind speed and direction affect the recording of the ground-coupled air-wave. The time differences in the airwaves at different stations are consistent with the acoustic speed of 340 m/s, but show variations of up to 0.6 s depending on wind speed and direction. Eruptions at Pavlof typically have little or no seismic precursors; this combined with the low visibility common to the area results in Pavlof being dangerous to the many aviation routes that transverse this airspace. It is the goal of this study to determine the conditions under which explosion quake data may be reliably used for more effective monitoring.