Apparent migration of tremor source synchronized with the change in the tremor amplitude observed at Aso volcano, Japan

Noriaki Takagi, Satoshi Kaneshima, Hitoshi Kawakatsu, Mare Yamamoto, Yasuaki Sudo, Takahiro Ohkura, Shin Yoshikawa, Takehiko Mori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


At Aso volcano, Kyushu, Japan, several different types of volcanic tremor have been observed for many years. One of them is the continuous tremor, the ground vibration which has dominant frequency between 3 and 10 Hz and has approximately constant amplitudes without any clear beginning and ending. We observed the continuous tremor at Aso using short period seismometer arrays for 3 days in 1999. We locate the source of the continuous tremor by seismic array data processing. We use the semblance coefficients in order to estimate the arrival azimuth and apparent slowness by grid search. The epicenters of the continuous tremor are located around the currently active crater, and the source depths are likely to be shallower than 600 m. We find that the estimated epicenter clearly migrates synchronized with the change in the tremor amplitude. The migration often occurs periodically with a period of about 80 s, but aperiodic occurrence of the migration is also often seen. In both cases, the epicenter is located southeastward (northwestward) when the amplitude is larger (smaller). We propose that there are two or more independent tremor sources with fixed locations, and that their amplitudes modulate either aperiodically or periodically with periods nearly 80 s. The tremor signals from those sources are mixed at the arrays, and the estimated epicenter parameters vary according to which signal dominates the seismograms. The simplest model is that there are two point sources, one at west and the other at south of the crater (we call the two sources as "NW source" and "SE source", respectively), and the amplitude of the SE source changes with time. Consequently, the SE source dominates the seismogram when the observed amplitude is larger, whereas the NW source dominates when the amplitude is smaller. We generate synthetic seismograms, and apply the location technique to them to verify the validity of the two point source model and to search the locations of two sources which can explain the observed synchronization between the amplitude and the apparent epicenter location. We find that the distance between the two sources needs to be more than 400 m to agree with the observation. We also analyze the seismic array data observed in 2001, and infer that the NW source in 1999 may be identical to the tremor source of the 2001 data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-200
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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