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Glacier microseismicity

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Full Publication:

Product Type: Journal Article

Year: 2010

Authors: West, M. E., C. F. Larsen, M. Truffer, S. R. O'Neel, and L. LeBlanc

Suggested Citation:
West, M. E., C. F. Larsen, M. Truffer, S. R. O'Neel, and L. LeBlanc. 2010. Glacier microseismicity. Geology 38(4):319-322. doi:10.1130/G30606.1


We present a framework for interpreting small glacier seismic events based on data collected near the center of Bering Glacier, Alaska, in spring 2007. We find extremely high microseismicity rates (as many as tens of events per minute) occurring largely within a few kilometers of the receivers. A high-frequency class of seismicity is distinguished by dominant frequencies of 20–35 Hz and impulsive arrivals. A low-frequency class has dominant frequencies of 6–15 Hz, emergent onsets, and longer, more monotonic codas. A bimodal distribution of 160,000 seismic events over two months demonstrates that the classes represent two distinct populations. This is further supported by the presence of hybrid waveforms that contain elements of both event types. The high-low-hybrid paradigm is well established in volcano seismology and is demonstrated by a comparison to earthquakes from Augustine Volcano. We build on these parallels to suggest that fluid-induced resonance is likely responsible for the low-frequency glacier events and that the hybrid glacier events may be caused by the rush of water into newly opening pathways.

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