Abstract

Throughout the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano (Hawai‘i), episodic collapses of a portion of the volcano’s summit caldera produced repeated Mw 4.9–5.3 earthquakes. Each of these 62 events was characterized by a very‐long‐period (VLP) seismic signal (>40  s). Although collapses in the later stage of the eruption produced earthquakes with significant amplitude clipping on near‐summit broadband seismometers, the first 12 were accurately recorded. For these initial collapse events, we compare average VLP seismograms at six near‐summit locations to synthetic seismograms derived from displacements at collocated Global Positioning System stations. We show that the VLP seismic signal was generated by a radially outward and upward ramp function in displacement. We propose that at local distances the period of the VLP seismic signal is solely dependent on the duration of this ramp function and the instrument transfer function, that is, the seismic VLP is an artifact of the bandlimited instrument response and not representative of real ground motion. The displacement ramp function imposes a sinc‐function velocity amplitude spectrum that cannot be fully recovered through standard seismic instrument deconvolution. Any near‐summit VLP signals in instrument‐response‐corrected velocity or displacement seismograms from these collapse events are subject to severe band limitation. Similarly, the seismic amplitude response is not flat through the low‐frequency corner, for example, instrument‐response‐uncorrected seismograms scaled by instrument sensitivity are equally prone to band limitation. This observation is crucial when attempting to clarify the different contributions to the VLP source signature. Not accounting for this effect could lead to misunderstanding of the magmatic processes involved.

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