The first Long Period earthquake detected in the background seismicity at Mt. Vesuvius

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Paola Cusano
Simona Petrosino
Francesca Bianco
Edoardo Del Pezzo


The typical earthquakes occurring at Mt. Vesuvius are Volcano-Tectonic. On July 20, 2003, an unusual earthquake with low and narrow frequency content was detected. The seismograms presented an emergent onset and a nearly monochromatic spectrum at all stations of the Osservatorio Vesuviano (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) seismic network. The event was located at about 4 km b.s.l. close to the crater axis and an equivalent duration magnitude of 0.6 was estimated. The nature of this event was investigated by comparing its features with those of two typical Volcano-Tectonic earthquakes occurred inside the same source volume. We compared the spectral content calculating the spectrograms and the coda patterns using the Hilbert Transform. A Seismic Moment Tensor inversion was performed on the low frequency earthquake. The focal mechanisms for the two Volcano-Tectonic earthquakes were estimated with a classical technique and resulted compatible with the stress field acting on the volcano. Taking into account the clear differences with the typical Volcano-Tectonic events as well as the peculiarities retrieved from our analyses (monochromatic, low frequency spectral content, and sustained coda) and also some geochemical observations, we classify the unusual low frequency seismic event detected at Mt. Vesuvius as Long Period earthquake and propose that its origin could be linked to a pressure drop in the deep hydrothermal system.

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Cusano, P., Petrosino, S., Bianco, F. and Del Pezzo, E. (2013) “The first Long Period earthquake detected in the background seismicity at Mt. Vesuvius”, Annals of Geophysics, 56(4), p. S0440. doi: 10.4401/ag-6447.

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