Long-term variation of the shallow tremor sources at Aso Volcano from 1999 to 2003

Noriaki Takagi, Satoshi Kaneshima, Takahiro Ohkura, Mare Yamamoto, Hitoshi Kawakatsu

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In order to investigate the continuous volcanic tremor of Aso Volcano in Japan, we performed a series of temporary short-period seismic array observations near the Nakadake first crater (the active crater) during five years from 1999 to 2003. We deployed in all of the temporary observations a seismic array at the same location about 700 m west of the active crater, in order to investigate long-term changes in the tremor activity. In 1999 and 2003, another array was simultaneously deployed at a different location 700 m north of the crater to help locate the tremor sources. We developed a frequency domain semblance method and applied it to the waveform data of the frequency range where the continuous tremor is dominant (3-6 Hz). We measured arrival azimuths and slownesses of the continuous tremor signals as functions of frequency, which are then used to locate the epicenters of the tremor signals corresponding to the principal peaks of the power spectra. For the observations in 1999 and 2002, the continuous tremor amplitudes are relatively small, and the slowness of the tremor signal observed at the west array takes a local minimum (0.5 to 0.6 s/km) near the frequency (∼ 4.7 Hz for 1999 and ∼ 4.8 Hz for 2002) which corresponds to the highest spectral peak. This implies that body waves dominate the tremor signals at the west array around the frequency. The tremor epicenters corresponding to 4.7 Hz for the observation in 1999 are located at the west rim of the currently active crater. While the surface crater activity of Aso remains low and the tremor activity is not clearly linked with the surface activity until early 2003, a close link between the tremor and crater activity appears in the middle of 2003, when a small phreatic eruption occurred a month before the array observation (July 10, 2003). Tremor signals of the observation in 2003 show a large spectral peak (4.2 Hz) where the slowness measured for the west array is very large (1.1 s/km), clearly suggesting that surface waves are dominant. The epicenter is again located at the western rim of the active crater. We interpret these observations as follows: in 1999 and 2002 when the surface activities of Aso were low, the continuous tremor excitation was deep and inactive. In the middle of 2003 when Aso Volcano became active with a series of phreatic eruptions a shallower tremor source was activated, possibly masking the deeper sources. This shallowing of the dominant tremor source could be due to the increase in the volcanic gas flow rate triggered by the phreatic eruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-346
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 20 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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