Explosion Seismogram Image
Lava lake explosion seismograms exhibit similar waveforms up to frequencies of several Hz, indicating a remarkably consistent source mechanisms, locations, and ray path parameters. Shown above are seismograms from a typical explosion as recorded by the MEVO short-period (SP) network (left side) along with spectrograms (time-varying spectral amplitude plots) (right side) for two of the channels. Traces are self-scaled but maximum ground velocity (micrometers/second) is given for each trace. Note that the signal energy is largely confined between 2 and 8 Hz.


Repitition Image

Explosions exhibit highly repeatable signals up to 20 seconds into their codas, indicating a very high degree of similarity in source and raypath parameters and a nondestructive source mechanism. Shown above are seventeen recordings of explosions from January, 1998, as seen at station ABB, 10 km from the lava lake, illustrating the overall similarity in gross waveform features.

This repeatability confirms that explosion events occur within a very limited source region, i.e. within the upper few meters of the lava lake. Theoretical calculations including parameters such as volatile content and magma viscosity predict that the dynamics of vesiculation and bubble growth within the phonolitic magma at Erebus will yield sufficient gas partial pressures to cause disruption and explosion only within the uppermost 60 m of the magma column (Dibble, 1994), further supporting the seismic observation of clearly repeating source/receiver paths for explosions.


TEMP Image

Details of explosion onsets, however, exhibit short-period variability which suggests that the fragmentation mechanism (bubble bursting) is not identically repeated from event to event; rather, variations such as a stuttering source, multiple bursts or other complexity appear to be common. The image above illustrates the onset of seismic (left panels) and acoustic (right panels) signals for two explosion events, demonstrating parallel degrees of apparent simplicity (top event) or complexity (bottom event) at the onset. Recordings were made at seismic station E1S and co-located microphone E1LI, situated 0.7 km from the lava lake; traces show 2 seconds of data.

Explosions also generate remarkable signals at very long periods and in infrasound.


Knight, R.L., R.C. Aster, P.R. Kyle, A.K. Ameko, and R.R. Dibble, Digital recording of the seismicity of Mount Erebus Volcano, November 1994 - June 1996. Antarctic Journal, 31, number 2; pages 41-43, 1998.

Rowe, C., Aster, R., Kyle, P., Dibble, R., Schlue, J., Seismic and Acoustic Observations at Mount Erebus Volcano, Ross Island, Antarctica, 1994-1998, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 101, 105-128, 2000.

Rowe, C., Aster, R., Kyle, P., Broadband seismic recording of strombolian explosions at Mount Erebus, Antarctic J. US, 33, 330-334, 2005.

Rowe, C., Aster, R., Kyle, P., Seismic observations at the Mount Erebus observatory: 1997-1998, Antarctic J. US, 33, 335-339, 2005.