Tuesday, October 18, 2016 AGS Luncheon

"Is she gonna blow? A seismologist's take on predicting volcanic eruptions"

Noon Luncheon 11:30-1:00 pm

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Volcanic earthquake swarms present a great conundrum to seismologists who monitor volcanic activity. Characterized by the lack of a single, large earthquake that defines tectonic main shockaftershock sequences, they can last anywhere from hours to years. Almost all eruptions are preceded by earthquake swarms. The catch for volcano seismologists is that most earthquake swarms at volcanoes do not culminate in eruptive activity. This study explores whether eruptive swarms can be differentiated from non-eruptive swarms.

I explore this question first through a rigorous statistically-driven comparison of the earthquake location and swarm duration data in our dataset. Such retrospective analysis of the catalog data can tell us whether or not earthquake locations vary depending on eruptive activity. I then consider the question “will it erupt?” by examining the progressive energy release throughout each earthquake catalog from a real-time rather than retrospective frame of reference. This forward looking perspective
is critical for developing insights with which to better forecast eruptive activity.


Speaker: Helena Burrman, Alaska Earthquake Center, Fairbanks

Helena Burrman is currently a seismologist working at the Alaska Earthquake Center, but her background is in volcano seismology which was the subject of her PhD dissertation completed in 2013. The results she will be showing are from an NSF-funded postdoc study looking into volcanic earthquake swarms.

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