National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1999

Hydroacoustic detection of volcanic activity on the Gorda Ridge, February–March 1996

Fox, C.G., and R.P. Dziak

Deep-Sea Res. Pt. II, 45(12), 2513–2530, doi: 10.1016/S0967-0645(98)00081-2 (1998)

Beginning at 0700 GMT on 28 February 1996, intense seismicity was detected in the northeast Pacific Ocean using the T-phase Monitoring System developed by NOAA/PMEL to access the U.S. Navy?s SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) in the North Pacific. The event was preliminarily located on the northernmost segment of the Gorda Ridge near 42.67°N and 126.8°W, in the vicinity of the ridge segment high ("narrowgate"). The nature of the seismicity was similar to that observed in June 1993 at the CoAxial segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, which was later documented to be a lateral magma injection with subsequent eruption. Due to several gaps in the data, the detection information was not as comprehensive as during the CoAxial event, but an initial migration of epicenters from the narrowgate area down-rift is inferred based on arrival bearings from a single array; there is evidence for an additional diking event on the second and third day of activity. There is also indication of a concentration of epicenters located near 42.6°N, as occurred during the CoAxial episode at what was later determined to be an eruption site. Examination of T-wave rise times generally supports this interpretation. Based on the nature and duration of the activity, a response effort was initiated, which later confirmed hot-water plumes and fresh lava flows at the site. Based on both hydroacoustic information and field observations, it is proposed that the episode began with a lateral dike injection, possibly with eruptive activity in the summit region, followed by multiple magma pulses and eventual focusing of the seismic activity and extrusion near 42.6°N.

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