Dike Propagation Mechanisms from Seismicity Accompanying the 2014 Bárðarbunga-Holuhraun Fissure Eruption, Iceland

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Jennifer Woods1, Thorbjörg Ágústsdóttir1, Tim S Greenfield1, Robert George Green1, Robert S White1 and Bryndis Brandsdottir2, (1)University of Cambridge, Bullard Laboratories - Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (2)University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
We present data from our dense seismic network which captured in unprecedented detail the micro-seismicity associated with the 2014 dike intrusion from the subglacial Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland. Over 30,000 automatically located earthquakes delineate a complex 46 km dike propagation during the days preceding the onset of effusive magmatism at the Holuhraun lava field on 29 August 2014. Approximately 1.5 km3 of lava was erupted, making this the largest eruption in Iceland for over 200 years.

Micro-seismicity tracks the lateral migration of the dike, with a concentration of earthquakes in the advancing tip where stresses are greatest, and trailing zones of lesser or no seismicity behind. Onset of an initial 4 hour fissure eruption was accompanied simultaneously by a backward retreat in seismic activity, followed by a gradual re-advance prior to the onset of a second, sustained fissure eruption in the same location on 31 August. Rock fracture mechanisms are determined from fault plane solutions of these seismic events. At the tip of the advancing dike, left-lateral strike-slip faulting parallel to the propagation is dominant, utilising pre-existing lineations and releasing stress accumulated in the brittle layer from rift zone extension. Behind the dike tip, both right-lateral and left-lateral strike-slip earthquakes are found, marking failure of solidifying magma plugs within the dike conduit. Contrary to many models of dike propagation, both normal faulting and failure at high angles to the dike are rare. Furthermore, a distinct lack of seismicity is observed in the 3-4 km region beneath the surface rupture. This suggests that opening is occuring aseismically, with earthquakes focused at the base of the dike near the brittle-ductile boundary.