Basaltic shield volcanoes of the western Galápagos islands are among the most rapidly deforming volcanoes worldwide, but little was known of the internal structure and brittle deformation processes accompanying inflation and deflation cycles. A 15-station broadband seismic array was deployed on and surrounding Sierra Negra volcano, Galápagos from July 2009 through June 2011 to characterize seismic strain patterns during an inter-eruption inflation period and to evaluate single and layered magma chamber models for ocean island volcanoes. We compare precise earthquake locations determined from a 3D velocity model and from a double difference cluster method. Using first-motion of P-arrivals, we determine focal mechanisms for 8 of the largest earthquakes (ML≤1.5) located within the array. Most of the 2382 earthquakes detected by the array occurred beneath the broad (∼9 km-wide) Sierra Negra caldera, at depths from surface to about 8 km below sea level. Although outside our array, frequent and larger magnitude (ML≤3.4) earthquakes occurred at Alcedo and Fernandina volcano, and in a spatial cluster beneath the shallow marine platform between Fernandina and Sierra Negra volcanoes. The time-space relations and focal mechanism solutions from a 4-day long period of intense seismicity June 4–9, 2010 along the southeastern flank of Sierra Negra suggests that the upward-migrating earthquake swarm occurred during a small volume intrusion at depths 5–8 km subsurface, but there was no detectable signal in InSAR data to further constrain geometry and volume. Focal mechanisms of earthquakes beneath the steep intra-caldera faults and along the ring fault system are reverse and strike-slip. These new seismicity data integrated with tomographic, geodetic, and petrological models indicate a stratified magmatic plumbing system: a shallow sill beneath the large caldera that is supplied by magma from a large volume deeper feeding system. The large amplitude inter-eruption inflation of the shallow sill beneath the Sierra Negra caldera is accompanied by only very small magnitude earthquakes, although historical records indicate that larger magnitude earthquakes (Mw <6) occur during eruptions, trapdoor faulting episodes without eruptions, and large volume flank intrusions.
- ocean island volcano
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science