TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 65 (No. 6), pp. 633-643, 2013

Switching from seismic to seismo-acoustic harmonic tremor at a transition of eruptive activity during the Shinmoe-dake 2011 eruption

Mie Ichihara1, John J. Lyons2, and Akihiko Yokoo3

1Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan
2Alaska Volcano Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK, U.S.A.
3Aso Volcanological Laboratory, Institute for Geothermal Sciences, Kyoto University, Minami-Aso, Kumamoto 869-1404, Japan

(Received October 31, 2012; Revised April 9, 2013; Accepted May 3, 2013; Online published July 8, 2013)

Abstract: This paper reports a sequence of harmonic tremor observed during the 2011 eruption of Shinmoe-dake volcano, Kyushu, Japan. The main eruptive activity started with subplinian eruptions, followed by lava effusion. Harmonic tremor was observed as seismic waves during the final stage of the effusive eruption. The tremor observed at this stage had unclear and fluctuating harmonic modes. In the atmosphere, however, many impulsive acoustic waves indicating small surface explosions were observed. When effusion stopped and explosive degassing began, harmonic tremor was observed as acoustic waves in the air and in the seismic data, and the harmonic modes became clearer and more stable. This transition in the character of the harmonic tremor coincided with rapid deflation of the lava that had accumulated in the crater. Based on these observations, and laboratory experiments reproducing the features of the wave fields, it is concluded that the harmonic tremor sequence at Shinmoe-dake was generated by gas flowing through channels in the gradually solidifying lava. Comparing our results with the few cases of similar transition observed at other volcanoes, we expect that the transition indicates changes in magma rheology and degassing conditions in the crater, and therefore of changes in eruptive activity.
Key words: Harmonic tremor, infrasound, lava deflation, degassing, lava viscosity, bubbles.

Corresponding author E-mail: ichihara@eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp

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