Abstract

We present the first continuous observations of the temporal evolution of oceanic crustal shear velocity beneath Axial Seamount, a submarine volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge (offshore northwestern North America). Weekly values of seafloor compliance, the periodic deformation of the seafloor under ocean waves, were estimated over the time period between December 2014 and May 2018 using data from two cabled broadband ocean-bottom seismometers with collocated absolute pressure sensors. We inverted these measurements for shear-wave velocity within the volcano beneath the two stations as a function of depth and time. Our results, combined with estimates of seismic compressional wave velocity, suggest that the shallow melt reservoir and the lower crust beneath the central caldera contain melt fractions of 14% and at least 4%, respectively. The eruption of April 2015 induced a dramatic drop in shear velocities beneath the central station, primarily in the lower crust, which could have been caused by an increase in melt fraction, a change in small-scale melt geometry, or both. The absence of such a change beneath the eastern flank of the caldera indicates that there is a lower-crustal conduit beneath the caldera center, which is much narrower in cross section (<1 km2) than the overlying melt reservoir (≥42 km2). Our study demonstrates the promise of using continuous data to understand submarine volcanism and crustal accretionary processes.

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