Research ArticleGEOLOGY

Deep fluid pathways beneath Mammoth Mountain, California, illuminated by migrating earthquake swarms

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Science Advances  15 Aug 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 8, eaat5258
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat5258


Although most volcanic seismicity is shallow (within several kilometers of the surface), some volcanoes exhibit deeper seismicity (10 to 30+ km) that may reflect active processes such as magma resupply and volatile transfer. One such volcano is Mammoth Mountain, California, which has also recently exhibited high rates of CO2 discharge at the surface. We perform high-resolution earthquake detection and relocation to reveal punctuated episodes of rapidly propagating seismicity at mid-crustal depths along a narrow fracture zone surrounding a body of partial melt. We infer that these earthquakes track dike intrusions or fluid pressure pulses associated with CO2 exsolution, suggesting that the deep plumbing system of Mammoth Mountain is an active conduit for fluid transport from the base of the crust to the surface.

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