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Seismic ground vibrations give advanced early-warning of subglacial floods

Seismic ground vibrations give advanced early-warning of subglacial floods

Title: Seismic ground vibrations give advanced early-warning of subglacial floods
Author: Eibl, Eva   orcid.org/0000-0002-0667-0035
Bean, Christopher J.
Einarsson, Bergur   orcid.org/0000-0002-1984-9982
Pálsson, Finnur   orcid.org/0000-0002-0874-6443
Vogfjörd, Kristín S.
Date: 2020-07-21
Language: English
Scope: 2504
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Verkfræði- og náttúruvísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Engineering and Natural Sciences (UI)
Department: Jarðvísindastofnun (HÍ)
Institute of Earth Sciences (UI)
Series: Nature Communications;11(1)
ISSN: 2041-1723
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17624-4
Subject: Seismic ground vibrations; Subglacial floods; Volcanic activity; Geothermal activity; Eldvirkni; Jarðhitakerfi; Jarðskjálftavirkni; Jökulhlaup
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/2138

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Eibl, E.P.S., Bean, C.J., Einarsson, B. et al. Seismic ground vibrations give advanced early-warning of subglacial floods. Nature Communications 11, 2504 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15744-5


Glacier runoff and melt from volcanic and geothermal activity accumulates in glacier dammed lakes in glaciated areas around the world. These lakes eventually drain, creating hazardous subglacial floods that are usually only confirmed after they exit the glacier and reach local river systems, which can be many tens of kilometres from the flood source. Once in the river systems, they travel rapidly to populated areas. Such delayed detection represents a potentially lethal shortcoming in early-warning. Here we demonstrate how to advance early-warning potential through the analysis of four such floods in a glaciated region of Iceland. By comparing exceptional multidisciplinary hydrological, GPS and seismic ground vibration (tremor) data, we show that array analysis of seismic tremor can be used for early location and tracking of the subglacial flood front. Furthermore the timing and size of the impending flood can be estimated, prior to it entering the river system. Advanced warnings of between 20 to 34 hours are achieved for large (peak discharge of more than 3000 m3/s, accumulation time of ~ 5.25 years) to small floods (peak discharges from 210 to 380 m3/s, accumulation times of ~ 1.3 years) respectively.


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