National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2017

Explosive processes during the 2015 eruption of Axial Seamount, as recorded by seafloor hydrophones

Caplan-Auerbach, J., R.P. Dziak, J. Haxel, D.R. Bohnenstiehl, and C. Garcia

Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 18(4), 1761–1774, doi: 10.1002/2016GC006734 (2017)

Following the installation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative cabled array, the 2015 eruption of Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca ridge, became the first submarine eruption to be captured in real time by seafloor seismic and acoustic instruments. This eruption also marked the first instance where the entire eruption cycle of a submarine volcano, from the previous eruption in 2011 to the end of the month-long 2015 event, was monitored continuously using autonomous ocean bottom hydrophones. Impulsive sounds associated with explosive lava-water interactions are identified within hydrophone records during both eruptions. Explosions within the caldera are acoustically distinguishable from those occurring in association with north rift lava flows erupting in 2015. Acoustic data also record a series of broadband diffuse events, occurring in the waning phase of the eruption, and are interpreted as submarine Hawaiian explosions. This transition from gas-poor to gas-rich eruptive activity coincides with an increase in water temperature within the caldera and with a decrease in the rate of deflation. The last recorded diffuse events coincide with the end of the eruption, represented by the onset of inflation. All the observed explosion signals couple strongly into the water column, and only weakly into the solid Earth, demonstrating the importance of hydroacoustic observations as a complement to seismic and geodetic studies of submarine eruptions.

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |