National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Inflation-predictable behavior and co-eruption deformation at Axial Seamount

Nooner, S.L., and W.W. Chadwick, Jr.

Science, 354(6318), 1399–1403, doi: 10.1126/science.aah4666 (2016)

Deformation of the ground surface at active volcanoes provides information about magma movements at depth. Improved seafloor deformation measurements between 2011 and 2015 documented a fourfold increase in magma supply and confirmed that Axial Seamount’s eruptive behavior is inflation-predictable, probably triggered by a critical level of magmatic pressure. A 2015 eruption was successfully forecast on the basis of this deformation pattern and marked the first time that deflation and tilt were captured in real time by a new seafloor cabled observatory, revealing the timing, location, and volume of eruption-related magma movements. Improved modeling of the deformation suggests a steeply dipping prolate-spheroid pressure source beneath the eastern caldera that is consistent with the location of the zone of highest melt within the subcaldera magma reservoir determined from multichannel seismic results.

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