Arabian Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 529–541 | Cite as

Seismicity associated with active, new-born, and re-awakening basaltic volcanoes: case review and the possible scenarios for the Harraat volcanic provinces, Saudi Arabia

  • Vyacheslav M. ZobinEmail author
  • Abdullah M. Al-Amri
  • Mohammed Fnais
Original Paper


During April–June 2009, a swarm of more than 30,000 earthquakes struck the Harrat Lunayyir, situated in the north-western end of the Saudi Arabian Harraat, east of the Red Sea. This sharp increase in the seismic activity in the region of ancient basaltic volcanic centers indicated a likelihood of a future eruption. To check the situation, a short review of the best-documented seismic activity associated with active, new-born, and re-awakening basaltic volcanoes is presented in this article. Basing on the review, some regularity in the development of seismic activity associated with basaltic eruptions was formulated. Three stages in the development of seismic activity were identified: preliminary, preceding, and continuous. The duration of preceding stage varies from a few hours for active and re-awakened volcanoes to some weeks for new-born volcanoes and may serve as a criterion for discriminations of different types of basaltic eruptions. The duration of the seismic activity during the 2009 episode at Harrat Lunayyir was longer than any activity preceding the basaltic eruptions of different types. Therefore, the most probable scenario is the arrest of sub-surface intrusion without any eruption in the region of Harrat Lunayyir. The next probable scenario would be the dike injections along the rift zones. The re-awakening of the old Harrat Lunayyir volcano or the birth of a new volcano at Harrat Lunayyir is less probable.


Basaltic volcano Earthquake swarm Harrat Lunayyir Re-awakening volcano New-born volcano Saudi Arabia Volcanic earthquakes 



The comments of two anonymous reviewers helped improve the manuscript. Catalogs of volcanic earthquakes were provided by Domenico Patané (Etna volcano, Italy), Jennifer Nakata (Kilauea volcano, Hawaii), and Valeria Levina (New Tolbachik volcanoes, Academia Nauk volcano).


  1. Al-Amri AM, Al-Mogren SM (2011) Seismo-volcanic investigation of the current activity in Harrat Lunayyir, Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah area. Final report. King Saud University, Riyadh, p 184Google Scholar
  2. Allard P, Behncke B, D’Amico S, Neri M, Gambino S (2006) Mount Etna 1993–2005: anatomy of an evolving eruptive cycle. Earth-Sci Rev 78:85–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alparone S, Andronico D, Giammanco S, Lodato L (2004) A multidisciplinary approach to detect active pathways for magma migration and eruption at Mt. Etna (Sicily, Italy) before the 2001 and 2002–2003 eruptions. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 136:121–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayele A, Jacques E, Kassim M, Kidane T, Omar A, Tait S, Nercessian A, de Chabalier J-B, King J (2007) The volcano-seismic crisis in Afar, Ethiopia, starting September 2005. Earth Planet Sci Lett 255:187–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ayele A, Keir D, Ebinger CJ, Wright TJ, Stuart GW, Buck R, Jacques E, Ogubazghi G, Sholan J (2009) The September 2005 mega-dike emplacement in the Ma-Hararo (Afar) nascent oceanic rift. Geophys Res Lett 36:L20306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Belousov A, Belousova M (2001) Eruptive process, effects deposits of the 1996 ancient basaltic phreatomagmatic eruptions in Karymskoe lake, Kamchatka, Russia. Spec Publs Int Ass Sediment 30:35–60Google Scholar
  7. Chang S-J, Van der Lee S (2011) Mantle plumes and associated flow beneath Arabia East Africa. Earth Planet Sci Lett 302:448–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen H, Gao F, Wu X, Meng X (2004) Relationship between earthquake and volcanic eruption inferred from historical records. Acta Seism Sin 17:500–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dziak RP, Fox CG, Schreiner AE (1995) The June–July 1993 seismo-acoustic event at CoAxial segment, Juan de Fuca Ridge: evidence for a lateral dike injection. Geophys Res Lett 22:135–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ebinger C, Ayele A, Keir D, Rowl JV, Yirgu G, Wright T, Belachew M, Hamling IJ (2010) Length and timescales of rift faulting magma intrusion: the Afar rifting cycle from 2005 to present. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci 38:439–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fedotov SA (ed) (1984) Large Tolbachik fissure eruption. Nauka, Moscow, p 637 (in Russian)Google Scholar
  12. Fedotov SA (1998) Study and mechanism of the simultaneous 1996 Karymsky volcano Akademia Nauk caldera eruptions in Kamchatka. Volc Seis 19:525–566Google Scholar
  13. Harrigan P (2006) Volcanic Arabia Saudi. Aramco World 57:2–13Google Scholar
  14. Klein FW, Koyanagi RY, Nakata JS, Tanigava WR (1987) The seismicity of Kilauea’s magma system. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 1350:1019–1185Google Scholar
  15. Luhr JF, Simkin T (eds) (1993) Parícutin. The volcano born in a Mexican cornfield. Geoscience Press Inc, Phoenix, p 427Google Scholar
  16. Masurenkov YuP (1991) Tectonic position and general history evolution of Eastern Kamchatka volcanoes. In: SA Fedotov, YuP Masurenkov (eds) Active volcanoes of Kamchatka, Vol 2, Nauka, Moscow, pp 8–15 (In Russian)Google Scholar
  17. Matsumura S, Ohkubo T, Imoto M (1991) Seismic swarm activity in and around the Izu Peninsula preceding the volcanic eruption of July 13, 1989. J Phys Earth 39:93–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pallister JS, McCausl WA, Jónsson S, Lu ZHM, El Hadidy S, Aburukbah A, Stewart ICF, Lundgren PR, White RA, Moufti MRH (2010) Broad accommodation of rift-related extension recorded by dyke intrusion in Saudi Arabia. Nature Geosciences 3:705–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Patanè D, Privitera E, Gresta S, Akinci A, Alparone S, Barberi G, Chiaraluce L, Cocina O, D’Amico S, De Gori P, Di Grazia G, Falsaperla S, Ferrari F, Gambino S, Giampiccolo E, Langer H, Maiolino V, Moretti M, Mostaccio A, Musumeci C, Piccinini D, Reitano D, Scarfì L, Spampinato S, Ursino A, Zuccarello A (2003) Seismological constraints for the dike emplacement of July–August 2001 lateral eruption at Mt Etna volcano, Italy. Ann Geoph 46:599–608Google Scholar
  20. Spera FJ (2000) Physical properties of magma. In: Sigurdsson H (ed) Encyclopedia of volcanoes. Academic, San Diego, pp 171–190Google Scholar
  21. Vergniolle S, Mangan M (2000) Hawaiian and Strombolian eruptions. In: Sigurdsson H (ed) Encyclopedia of volcanoes. Academic, San Diego, pp 447–461Google Scholar
  22. Yamasato H, Yokota T, Kashiwabara S (1991) Earthquake swarm volcanic tremors off Eastern Izu Peninsula in 1989. Spectral investigation and characteristics of waveforms. J Phys Earth 39:79–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zobin VM (2003) Introduction to volcanic seismology. Elsevier, Amsterdam, p 304Google Scholar
  24. Zobin VM, Gorelchik VI (1982) Seismicity source parameters of earthquakes in the region of the Large Tolbachik fissure eruption. Bull Volcanol 45:99–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Zobin VM, Firstov PP, Ivanova EI (1983) Earthquake swarm in the region of Karymsky Volcano in Jan.–Feb., 1978. Volcanol Seismol 5:64–73, In RussianGoogle Scholar
  26. Zobin VM, Levina VI (1998) Rupture history of the 1996 January 1 Ms 66 volcanic earthquake preceding the simultaneous eruption of Karymsky Akademia Nauk volcanoes in Kamchatka, Russia. J Geophys Res 103:18315–18324CrossRefGoogle Scholar

WEB sites

  1. BGVN (2005) Bulletin of the Global Volcano Network, Smithsonian Institution, Washington. Last visit on 1 June 2011
  2. GVP (2011) Global Volcano Project, Smithsonian Institution, Washington. Last visit on 1 June 2011
  3. Harvard CMT (2011) Centroid moment tensor (CMT) catalog, Harvard University, Harvard. Last visit on 1 June 2011
  4. ISC (2011) Bulletin of the International Seismological Centre, Thatcham. Last visit on 1 June 2011
  5. USGS. (2011) US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program, Reston. Last visit on 1 June 2011

Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vyacheslav M. Zobin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Abdullah M. Al-Amri
    • 2
  • Mohammed Fnais
    • 2
  1. 1.Observatorio Vulcanológico de la Universidad de ColimaColimaMéxico
  2. 2.Department of GeologyKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations