, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 485-501

Ocean-bottom seismometer observations of seismic activity at Loihi Seamount, Hawaii

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This study reports the result of deep ocean-bottom seismometer recording of an undersea volcanic event in progress. An array of five three-component, isolated sensor ocean-bottom seismometers (ISOBS) was deployed for 28 days on the summit and flanks of Loihi Seamount, Hawaii, to monitor seismicity. The deployment was prompted by reports from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) of a swarm of small-magnitude events located beneath the active submarine volcano in late September, 1986. Monitoring of this earthquake swarm by the University of Hawaii commenced 1 October 1986. Although seismicity tapered off rapidly after 11 October, more than 200 events were located. Systematic changes in spatial clustering during the initial swarm activity suggest changing patterns of stress within this crustal volume, possibly due to induced stress resulting from magma movement in the underlying crust or deep portions of the edifice.

Most of the very shallow (< 10 km) events were located beneath the summit and southwest flank of the elongate edifice. No shallow tremor was observed despite a search through the data, although such tremor may have ceased prior to deployment of the ocean-bottom seismometers (OBS). Constraints on the association between seismicity and observed topographic and tectonic elements of Loihi are also of primary importance. Many of the earthquakes located near the steep flanks generated rock falls that were recorded on the OBSs. This is consistent with the results of dredge and bottom photography data indicating that the flanks are covered with fragments of shattered lava pillows and flows. Dike intrusion and mass wasting are major influences on the morphology of Loihi. Intact flows have been observed near the deep portion of the south rift zone; however, few events were located in that region during this swarm.