Nichols, M., Malone, S., Moran, S.C., Thelen, W.A. and Vidale, J., 2009, Plenty of deep long-period earthquakes beneath Cascade volcanoes: AGU Fall meeting abstract #V23D-2113

Plenty of deep long-period earthquakes beneath Cascade volcanoes

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) records and locates earthquakes within Washington and Oregon, including those occurring at 10 Cascade volcanic centers. In an earlier study (Malone and Moran, EOS 1997), a total of 11 deep long-period (DLP) earthquakes were reported beneath 3 Washington volcanoes. They are characterized by emergent P- and S- arrivals, long and ringing codas, and contain most of their energy below 5 Hz. DLP earthquakes are significant because they have been observed to occur prior to or in association with eruptions at several volcanoes, and as a result are inferred to represent movement of deep-seated magma and associated fluids in the mid-to-lower crust. To more thoroughly characterize DLP occurrence in Washington and Oregon, we employed a two-step algorithm to systematically search the PNSNís earthquake catalogue for DLP events occurring between 1980 and 2008. In the first step we applied a spectral ratio test to the demeaned and tapered triggered event waveforms to distinguish long-period events from the more common higher frequency volcano-tectonic and regional tectonic earthquakes. In the second step we visually analyzed waveforms of the flagged long-period events to distinguish DLP earthquakes from long-period rockfalls, explosions, shallow low-frequency events, and glacier quakes. We identified 56 DLP earthquakes beneath 7 Cascade volcanic centers. Of these, 31 occurred at Mount Baker, where the background flux of magmatic gases is greater than at the other volcanoes in our study. The other 6 volcanoes with DLPs (counts in parentheses) are Glacier Peak (5), Mount Rainier (9), Mount St. Helens (9), Mount Hood (1), Three Sisters (1), and Crater Lake (1). No DLP events were identified beneath Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson, or Newberry Volcano. The events are 10-40 km deep and have an average magnitude of around 1.5 (Mc), with both the largest and deepest DLPs occurring beneath Mount Baker. Cascade DLP earthquakes occur mostly as single events, although there are a few instances where two consecutive DLPs occur within seconds to hours of each other. None of the DLP earthquakes have been associated with anomalous activity at any Cascade volcano, including the 1980-86 and 2004-08 eruptive periods at Mount St. Helens.