The recent seismicity of Mt. Vesuvius: inference on seismogenic processes

Luca D’Auria, Antonietta M. Esposito, Domenico Lo Bascio, Patrizia Ricciolino, Flora Giudicepietro, Marcello Martini, Teresa Caputo, Walter De Cesare, Massimo Orazi, Rosario Peluso, Giovanni Scarpato, Ciro Buonocunto, Marco Capello, Antonio Caputo


We have analyzed the recent seismicity of Mt. Vesuvius, with particular emphasis on the period 1999-2012. Since 1972 continuous observations with electromagnetic seismometers allowed the compilation of a detailed earthquake catalogue for the station OVO. Furthermore since 1999 another, more complete, catalogue for the station BKE, closer to the crater, is available. The Gutenberg-Richter distribution of magnitudes shows a temporal decrease of the b-value since 1985, with current values close to 1.0. The temporal pattern of the strain release shows a non-stationary behavior with periods of increased release rates (as in 1989-1990, 1995-1996 and 1999-2000). The spatial distribution of the seismicity consists in two main seismogenic volumes, one with hypocenters clustered below the Mt. Vesuvius crater at depths mostly between 1-6 km, and another with hypocenters clustered within the Gran Cono volcanic edifice, with depths above the sea level. We compare the statistical properties of the seismicity occurring within these two volumes and their spatial and temporal patterns. Moreover we analyze the statistical distribution of focal mechanisms for each volume. Our results point to gravity-induced stresses as the source of the shallow seismicity and of a combined effect of crustal heterogeneities, regional stress and hydrothermal dynamics for the deeper seismicity. Finally we discuss possible future developments of the seismic monitoring system in the light of the past and current seismicity.


Mt. Vesuvius; Volcano seismology; Statistical seismology; Volcano monitoring

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X