National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Seismic constraints on caldera dynamics from the 2015 Axial Seamount eruption

Wilcock, W.S.D., M. Tolstoy, F. Waldhauser, C. Garcia, Y.J. Tan, D.R. Bohnenstiehl, J. Caplan-Auerback, R.P. Dziak, A.F. Arnulf, and M.E. Mann

Science, 354(6318), 1395–1399, doi: 10.1126/science.aah5563 (2016)

Seismic observations in volcanically active calderas are challenging. A new cabled observatory atop Axial Seamount on the Juan de Fuca ridge allows unprecedented real-time monitoring of a submarine caldera. Beginning on 24 April 2015, the seismic network captured an eruption that culminated in explosive acoustic signals where lava erupted on the seafloor. Extensive seismic activity preceding the eruption shows that inflation is accommodated by the reactivation of an outward-dipping caldera ring fault, with strong tidal triggering indicating a critically stressed system. The ring fault accommodated deflation during the eruption and provided a pathway for a dike that propagated south and north beneath the caldera’s east wall. Once north of the caldera, the eruption stepped westward, and a dike propagated along the extensional north rift.

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