Strange M3.6 in New Mexico, Mt. Etna Activity Skyrockets! Is the possible landslide approaching soon???
First off, if you would like to read this blog post then please click the title you see above or "read more" to continue. Seismic activity calmed during the late hours of Christmas Eve (depending on where you live) but volcanic activity at both Mt. Etna in Italy and Mt. Anak Krakatau in Indonesia seems to be skyrocketing. In this blog post I will quickly show seismic data for the recent, and strange, M3.6 earthquake in New Mexico. After that, I will show a good amount of seismic data for the recent eruptions and increases in activity at Mt. Etna in Italy. Remember professionals say Etna is sliding into the sea. This was discovered months before this recent increase in activity. Could this recent increase cause the active volcano to slide into the sea quicker than they thought? That is entirely possible but we will have to wait and see. I will first very briefly talk about the New Mexico seismicity and then I will show the info and data for the Etna events. If you haven't already, please click the title of this post or "read more" to continue reading.
M3.6 and Others Strike New Mexico
On December 26, 2018 at 00:25UTC (4:25pm Pacific Time, December 25, 2018) a magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck in an odd location in New Mexico around 5.0km in depth. The first image you see above is the event page for this earthquake submitted by USGS. It says only 2 people reported feeling this earthquake. Remember that this is only the number of people that decided to report it, not the actual number of people who felt it. This M3.6 quake was also followed by a few other smaller earthquakes that have yet to be reported. These quakes had dominant high frequencies well beyond the normal level so these seemed like normal tectonic events. However you never know, so monitor this area if seismicity increases!
Now the second image you see is the location of the M3.6 (orange circle) in regards to the closest seismic station, UNM2 in the YX network. Station UNM2 will be the station I gather data from to generate the seismic charts and plots shown below. Remember helicorder plots, the blue charts with multiple lines, help you see a broad view of activity. In-depth plots, such as the ones shown after the blue charts, are better used for in-depth analysis. Never try to judge an event just by using one helicorder alone! It doesn't work. Good thing though is that amateur seismology is just as possible as amateur astronomy!
As before, please pay attention to all chart labels first and pay attention to any captions beneath any images. All plots were generated by myself using data obtained from the IRIS database and the seismic analysis program SWARM.
Now the multi-plot images shown above are in slideshow format. You can use the options in the top left or top right corners to aid you in skipping to certain images. As you can see above, the only reported event was the M3.6. Of course this could change by tomorrow. Now I would like to goto the main course. Let us take a look at some of the interesting seismic events that have been taking place since activity increased on December 24, 2018.
Mt. Etna Activity Significantly Increases
Before I start, I would like people to know that Mt. Etna in Italy is an extremely active volcano (slideshow of few images of new eruption at end of post). It goes through periods of increased activity and calms days, months, or even years later. However that does not mean we should take increases in activity lightly. Especially when, in October of this year 2018, scientists came out and stated that Mt. Etna is slowly sliding into the sea. They say it is likely this could take some time but the more activity and the more eruptions, the more likely it is the landslide will happen sooner.
Now you may think of a landslide in the traditional manner, such as the Oso Landslide that killed 43 people in 2014 in Washington State. But this shouldn't really be labeled a landslide simply based on the sheer amount of land that is sliding. This should more accurately be dubbed a "mountain-slide". The entire flank of Etna is falling into the sea. It is currently occurring at a slow pace, but renewed eruptive activity would for sure increase the likelihood of this occurring soon. When? I have no clue. If you would like to read about the possible Etna "mountain-slide" that could occur in the future, then please CLICK HERE. The "mountain-slide" would most definitely cause a massive ash and tephra eruption, much like Mt St Helens did in 1980, but would also cause a massive tsunami. It is unknown how large or how far the tsunami could reach, but it is possible places like Cyprus and even Israel could be affected. Countries in Northern Africa would be certainly affected and many cities in Italy would be completely wiped out. Let us pray the current activity subsides.
Below I will first show the info and seismic data for the most recent M5.1 that struck Mt Etna, followed by two helicorder charts showing a quick overview of the earthquakes and eruptions that have occurred in the past few days. I will then show the signature of the large volcanic eruption that occurred on December 24 and a few plots for the strongest moments of the eruption. I will then show some plots for some other events that appeared to be volcanic explosions and one low frequency earthquake that looks almost identical to the low frequency events we saw during the 2008-2009 failed volcanic event at Yellowstone Lake.
In regards to the 3 images you see above, the first image is the USGS event page for M5.1 earthquake. It struck at 2:19UTC December 26, 2018 (6:19pm Pacific Time, December 25, 2018) just SE of Mt. Etna. It is the largest earthquake so far to hit near the volcano since eruptive activity increased. Over 32 people felt this event. Remember the "felt count" is the number of people who reported this to USGS. Since most people in this area do not report to USGS, and the population count in this area is high, it is likely hundreds if not thousands of more people felt this event.
In the second image you can see the location of the M5.1 earthquake in regards to the seismic station I used to generate all of these plots you see: ESLN. Notice how this M5.1 was very close to Mt. Etna and the characteristics of the event are likely to be connected to the increase in eruptive activity.
The third image you see is the 3-plot seismic image for this M5.1 earthquake. It was quite strong and carried dominant low frequencies below 2Hz even though this station was not that far away from this quake! This M5.1 is for sure connected to the increase in activity.
Above are the helicorder charts for the past 2 days of activity. Notice the thickest, boldest line you see is the major eruption that occurred on December 24, 2018 (in depth plots shown below). It seems to have started around 11:12UTC on that date but the timing cannot be exact due to the emergent nature of this event. However you can tell how strong it was. The M5.1 can be seen in the bottom right corner of the 2nd helicorder. The two helicorder images above are in slideshow format. Now to the unaided eye it looks like as time goes on the activity calms. That is not true. If you look at the background harmonic/volcanic tremor episodes, which are hard to see on conventional helicorders, then you would see the tremor episodes are not calming. They wax and wane yes, but they are increasing and more activity is likely soon. Let us pray this calms down!
Below you will see that the plots are labeled. All plot images you see were completely generated by myself using data from the INGV database and the seismic program SWARM. There are going to be alot of plot images below but I will try to separate the different sections with dividers. Remember to always read chart labels first, if you understand them, and pay attention to any captions beneath any images. Also remember that you can always contact me or a professional for help in understanding seismic plots. Some pages on my website here do their best to teach you. Please peruse the "How to..." dropdown menu and the "Seismic Archive" page
Here is a full, zoomed out look of the large Mt. Etna eruption that took place on December 24, 2018 starting around 11:12UTC or so. For those who know, I added a low pass 3Hz filter so most of the activity you see is the eruption only. Larger, taller spikes are earthquakes being caused by the eruption. Notice the dominant low frequencies.
The following 3 images shown directly below only are zoomed-in looks of what the actual signals of this eruption looked like. Notice this eruption contained extremely strong low frequency events (i.e. very strong harmonic or volcanic tremor episodes). Please note just how strong the background tremor gets! The background tremor reaches this strength because it is being caused by an active eruption. Not that much magma was expelled during this eruption, compared to how much magma there is down there, so bigger eruptions and quakes are likely approaching for the coming days and weeks. However you never know so please keep the people in this area in your prayers!
Now in regards to the 3-plot images shown below, as always, please pay attention to chart labels (if you understand them) and pay attention to any captions beneath any images and any dates you see. All times are in UTC. As always, all plots were generated by myself using data from station ESLN in the INGV database using the program SWARM.
Okay, so those plots were interesting indeed. The last portion of the plots below shows one LF (low frequency) event for Mt. Etna. Directly below, after the 3-plot image for the LF event at Etna, there is also another 3-plot image showing one of the LF events at Yellowstone Lake (Yellowstone National Park and Supervolcano Caldera, WY) during the concerning dike intrusion of Yellowstone Lake which occurred December 2008-early January 2009 (intrusion of magma peaked on Dec. 29, 2008). If you know me and my interests, you know that the failed volcanic eruption at Yellowstone Lake between Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009 is by far the most interesting event I have ever studied. I love it. However I am glad it never reached full potential otherwise it is possible, though at a low probability, that I would not be standing here writing this right now. But seriously, look at how the two events look very similar! Could they be related to the similar process of magmatic resonance?
See? Don't the two 3-plot images above look similar to one another? Of course the events are slightly different since geological characteristics do differ, but I personally believe the process is the same: resonance of a thick, fluid substance (i.e. magma) traveling into, or out of, an unknown catalyst. Please also notice how the LF event at Etna seems to have been much stronger than the ones at Yellowstone during the 2008-2009 dike intrusion event. If you wish to see some plots of the 2008-2009 event at Yellowstone, please goto the "Seismic Events" dropdown menu. Thank you for reading and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Happy New Year!
Ben Ferraiuolo is a fast learner and someone who will always stand for the truth. Visit "About Me" for more!