Abstract

Instrumental limitations have long prevented the detailed characterization of offshore earthquakes around the Hawaiian Islands, and little is known about the spatial distribution of earthquakes in regions outside the vicinity of the well-monitored island of Hawaii. Here, we analyze data from the deployment of two successive networks of ocean-bottom seismometers (OBSs) as part of the Plume-Lithosphere Undersea Melt Experiment (PLUME) to better determine seismicity patterns along the Hawaiian Islands and their offshore regions. We find that earthquake detection rates are improved when seismograms are high-pass filtered above ∼5 Hz to reduce the background seismic noise. Hypocentral solutions have been determined for 1147 previously undetected microearthquakes, and an additional 2880 events correspond to earthquakes already in the catalog of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). The spatial patterns of earthquakes identified solely on the PLUME network provide complementary information to patterns identified by the HVO network. A diffuse pattern of seismicity is found to the southeast of the island of Hawaii, and clusters of earthquakes are located west of the island. Many microearthquakes are observed in the vicinity of Maui and Molokai, including some located at mantle depths. A small number of microearthquakes are found to occur near Oahu. There is no evidence from our analyses that the Molokai fracture zone (MFZ) is seismically active at this time, and no evidence was found of a previously hypothesized Diamond Head fault (DHF) near Oahu. However, on the basis of both the PLUME and HVO locations, there is a northeast–southwest–trending swath of epicenters extending northeastward of Oahu that may indicate the locus of moderate-sized historic earthquakes attributed to the Oahu region.

You do not currently have access to this article.