A reinterpretation of seismicity associated with the January 1983 dike intrusion at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Allan M. Rubin, Dominique Gillard, Jean Luc Got

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In January 1983, a dike intrusion/fissure eruption generated a swarm of 375 magnitude 1 to 3 earthquakes along a 16-km segment of Kilauea's Middle East Rift Zone. We searched the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory catalog for multiplets of similar events from this region from 1980 through 1985 and obtained precise relative locations by waveform cross correlation. Over 150 of the intrusion earthquakes could be grouped into 14 multiplets of five or more events with sufficient similarity for accurate relocation. Some multiplets were active for only a few minutes during the downrift migration phase of the seismic swarm, consistent with generation near the propagating dike tip, while others were active for several days. The two multiplets nearest the origin of the seismic swarm include events from the preceding days and months. Most multiplets span only 50 to 100 m following relocation, are located at about 3 to 4 km depth, and appear to deepen downrift. The catalog depths of those earthquakes in multiplets and those not in multiplets are similar, suggesting that most of the recorded seismicity may have come from a very limited depth interval despite the fact that the dike breached the surface. By analogy with a mechanical model used to explain a similar clustering of background seismicity in the Upper East Rift in 1991, we infer that the earthquakes are generated in regions of high stress concentration immediately above Kilauea's deforming deep rift body. This conclusion is consistent with the depth of the top of the deep rift body inferred from geodetic data and with numerical calculations suggesting that a significant ambient differential stress is required for dikes to produce earthquakes larger than magnitude 1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10003-10015
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 10 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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