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Seismicity associated with renewed dome building at Mount St. Helens, 2004-2005

January 1, 2008

The reawakening of Mount St. Helens after 17 years and 11 months of slumber was heralded by a swarm of shallow
(depth <2 km) volcano-tectonic earthquakes on September
23, 2004. After an initial decline on September 25, seismicity
rapidly intensified; by September 29, Md
>2 earthquakes were
occurring at a rate of ~1 per minute. A gradual transition from
volcano-tectonic to hybrid and low-frequency events occurred
along with this intensification, a characteristic of many precursory swarms at Mount St. Helens before dome-building
eruptions in the 1980s. The first explosion occurred October
1, 2004, 8.5 days after the first earthquakes, and was followed
by three other explosions over the next four days. Seismicity
declined after each explosion and after two energetic noneruptive tremor episodes on October 2 and 3. Following the last
explosion of this series, on October 5, seismicity declined significantly. Over the next ten days seismicity was dominated by
several event families; by October 16, spacing between events
had become so regular that we dubbed the earthquakes “drumbeats.” Through the end of 2005 seismicity was dominated by
these drumbeats, although occasional larger earthquakes (Md
2.0-3.4) dominated seismic energy release. Over time there
were significant variations in drumbeat size, spacing, and
spectra that correlated with changes in the style of extrusion
at the surface. Changes in drumbeat character did not correspond to variations in magma flux at the conduit, indicating
that drumbeat size and spacing may be more a function of the
mechanics of extrusion than of the extrusion rate.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2008
Title Seismicity associated with renewed dome building at Mount St. Helens, 2004-2005
DOI 10.3133/pp17502
Authors Seth C. Morgan, Stephen D. Malone, Anthony I. Qamar, Weston A. Thelen, Amy K. Wright, Jacqueline Caplan-Auerbach
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1750-2
Index ID pp17502
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Hazards Program

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