Dynamics and rapid migration of the energetic 2008–2009 Yellowstone Lake earthquake swarm

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Abstract

[1] Yellowstone National Park experienced an unusual earthquake swarm in December–January, 2008–2009 that included rapid northward migration of the activity at 1 km per day and shallowing of the maximum focal depths from 12 to 2 km beneath northern Yellowstone Lake. The swarm consisted of 811 earthquakes, 0.5 < MW < 4.1, aligned on a N–S 12-km-long vertical plane of hypocenters. The largest earthquake of the swarm had a 50% tensile crack-opening source determined by a full waveform inversion that we interpret as a magmatic expansion component. In addition, GPS data revealed E–W crustal extension coincident with the swarm. Modeling of GPS and seismic data is consistent with E–W opening of ∼10 cm on a N–S striking vertical dike. Our interpretation is that the swarm was induced by magmatic fluid migration or propagation of a poroelastic stress pulse along a pre-existing fracture zone.

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