Causes of volcanic unrest at Mt. Spurr in 2004–2005 inferred from repeated tomography

I. Koulakov, S. Z. Smirnov, V. Gladkov, E. Kasatkina, M. West, S. El Khrepy, N. Al-Arifi

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Mt. Spurr is the largest active volcano in Alaska of high explosive potential. The most recent activity, including two recent magmatic eruptions in 1953 and 1992, has occurred via the flanking Crater Peak. From 2004 to 2006, strong seismicity, gas flux, and heating were observed in the summit area, which had remained inactive for more than 5 Ka. To understand the cause of this reactivation, we performed repeated tomography inversions that clearly imaged the magma reservoir beneath Mt. Spurr and showed temporal changes in its shape and intensity. During the two years preceding the unrest, we observed ascension of the upper limit of the reservoir-related anomaly from a depth of 5 to 3 km below the surface, accompanied by strong seismicity. During the following years, the shape of the anomaly remained unchanged, but its intensity weakened. These observations may indicate the release of fluids from the ductile reservoir and fast upward ascent through the brittle cover that caused intensive seismicity and gas flux during the unrest from 2004 to 2006. The origin of this zone will possibly cause a resumption of explosive eruptions in the summit area of Mt. Spurr.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17482
Pages (from-to)17482
Number of pages7
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018




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