Abstract

In the year following the end of the 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, four significant swarms of low-frequency, low-magnitude (ML < 0.1) earthquakes occurred at shallow depths beneath the summit. Because swarms of low-frequency (LF) earthquakes preceded eruptions in 1989 and 2009, the posteruption swarms caused considerable concern and prompted the Alaska Volcano Observatory to raise the monitoring levels on three occasions. None of these swarms led to eruptions, however, and most observers (including us) initially concluded that the swarms had been caused by minor stress adjustments in the new lava dome or in the surrounding summit glaciers. New observations reveal that the shallow LF swarms were accompanied by 2 families of repeating earthquakes at depths between 3 km and 6 km below sea level, where the magma storage region is thought to be. These mid-crustal volcano-tectonic (VT) type earthquakes were identical to earthquakes recorded during the 2009 Redoubt eruption more than 6 months earlier. Focal mechanisms demonstrate that these earthquakes have thrust mechanisms inconsistent with the strike-slip nature of regional faulting. Based on these observations, we conclude that they are generated through processes occurring within the magma storage region. The concurrence of the repeating VT earthquakes with the shallow LF swarms indicates that the shallow LF earthquakes were also magmatically driven. Our results emphasize that even brief episodes of low-amplitude earthquake activity, such as the LF swarms observed at Redoubt following the 2009 eruption, can be indicative of magmatic activity. Perhaps more significant, however, is the demonstration that the conduit system at Redoubt remained active, intact, and capable of transporting heat and fluids to the surface months after the eruption was considered over.

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