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A model for earthquake swarms


  • David P. Hill


A model for earthquake swarms in volcanic regions consists of the following concepts: (1) clusters of magma-filled dikes exist within brittle volumes of the crust, (2) dikes within a cluster are systematically oriented with their long dimension in the direction of the regional greatest principal stress, and (3) a sequence of shear failures (an earthquake swarm) occurs along a system of conjugate fault planes joining en echelon offset dike tips at oblique angles. This model accounts for commonly observed geometric relations between surface faulting patterns, the hypocentral distribution of swarm earthquakes, and fault plane solutions in a variety of situations. Swarm areas dominated by strike-slip faulting, however, provide the most compelling examples of the utility of the model. Specific examples considered here include a swarm on the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii, and swarms in the Imperial Valley, California, and the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland, which represent transitional zones between spreading centers and transform faults.

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