Triggering of volcanic eruptions

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Abstract

Although earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are each manifestations of large-scale tectonic plate and mantle motions, it is usually thought that the occurrences of these events are not directly related. There have been some studies, however, in which triggering of volcanic eruptions by earthquakes (remote from the volcano) has been proposed [1,2]. The 1992 Landers (southern California) earthquake caused triggered seismicity at very large distances [3], including the magmatically active [4] Long Valley caldera region which also experienced a significant coincident deformation transient [5]. Motivated by this demonstration of the ability of a distant earthquake to disturb a volcanic system, and the earlier studies of specific cases of eruption triggering, we examine here the historical record of eruptions and earthquakes to see if there are indeed significantly more eruptions immediately following large earthquakes. We find that within a day or two of large earthquakes there are many more eruptions within a range of 750 km than would otherwise be expected. Additionally, it is well known [6] that volcanoes separated by hundreds of kilometres frequently erupt in unison; the characteristics of such eruption pairs are also consistent with the hypothesis that the second eruption is triggered by earthquakes associated with the first.

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