Detailed Segmentation and Episodic Propagation of the 2014 Bárðarbunga Dike Intrusion and Seismicity Accompanying the Sustained Holuhraun Eruption, Central Icleand

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Thorbjörg Ágústsdóttir1, Jennifer Woods1, 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
An intense swarm of seismicity on 16 August 2014 marked the intrusion of a large dike from the subglacial Bárðarbunga volcano, central Iceland. Melt propagated laterally from the central volcano at the brittle-ductile boundary at ~6 km b.s.l. and created over 30,000 earthquakes along a 46 km path heading NE from Bárðarbunga. On 31 August a fissure eruption began at Holuhraun and the seismicity rate within the dike dropped instantaneously to a much lower level suggesting that once a pathway to the surface had formed, magma was able to flow freely and largely aseismically. Melt was fed from the subsiding Bárðarbunga volcano to Holuhraun for 6 months, until the eruption ceased on 27 February 2015. We discuss the relationship between bursts of seismicity in the feeder volcano and periods of rapid dike propagation.

We use a dense seismic network and relative earthquake relocations to map in detail the segmentation of the dike on all scales. New dike segments were initiated with a rapid advance of the dike tip at typically 1 km/h, separated by pauses of up to 78 h. During the stalled periods the magma pressure built until it was sufficient to fracture a new segment, which then propagated rapidly forward. Large segments became seismically quiet once a new segment had intruded beyond it as extensional stresses had been relieved and melt was able to flow freely. Each rapid propagation phase was accompanied by a drop in the seismicity rate directly behind the dike tip, most likely due to a stress shadow being formed behind the dike tip. Moment tensor solutions show that the dominant failure mechanism is left-lateral strike slip faulting at the leading edge, orientated parallel to the dike, with a combination of right-lateral, left-lateral and normal faulting behind the dike tip, contradicting many widely used models. Much of the seismicity behind the tip may represent fracture of frozen melt as the dike inflated and propagated forward