National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2005

Hydroacoustic records and a numerical model of the source mechanism from the first historical eruption of Anatahan Volcano, Mariana Islands

Dziak, R.P., M. Park, H. Matsumoto, and S.-K. Byun

J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 146(1–3), 86–101, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2004.12.009 (2005)

Anatahan Volcano in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) erupted for the first time in recorded history on 10 May 2003. The underwater acoustic records (T-waves) of earthquakes, explosions, and tremor produced during the eruption were recorded on a sound channel hydrophone deployed in February 2003. Acoustic propagation models show that the seismic to acoustic conversion at Anatahan is particularly efficient, aided by the upward slope of the seamount toward the hydrophone. The hydrophone records confirm the onset of earthquake activity between 0100 and 0200Z on 10 May, with a substantial increase in seismicity beginning at ~0620Z. In addition, the onset of continuous, low-frequency (3-40 Hz) acoustic energy that is likely volcanic tremor related to magma intrusion was also observed at 0620Z. The hydrophone recorded 1401 earthquakes during the first 3 days of the eruption. A histogram of seismicity indicates two main periods of explosion/eruption activity, the first beginning at ~0620Z on 10 May and the second at ~0000Z on 11 May. Relative earthquake depth estimates indicate that both eruption periods were accompanied by earthquake activity from deep within the Anatahan volcanic edifice. A numerical representation of the Anatahan volcano-seismic source was developed to examine the character of acoustic signals generated from the eruption governed by the geometry of the source and the physical properties of the magma. A magma pipe source mechanism is used to compute the seismo-acoustic wavefield on the flank of the Anatahan volcanic edifice (on the seafloor and in the water column) due to mode conversion by roughness scattering. A fluid-filled pipe model was chosen because it allows for a more straightforward relation between volcano geometry and spectral features of harmonic tremor as well as its morphologic similarity to a submerged volcanic edifice.

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