Classification of volcanic tremors and earthquakes based on seismic correlation: application at Sakurajima volcano, Japan

Theodorus Permana, Takeshi Nishimura, Hisashi Nakahara, Nikolai Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Classification of volcanic tremors and earthquakes is an important part of volcano monitoring. Conventional classification technique relies on visual characterization of the amplitudes, frequency, or duration of seismic signals. In some cases, such classification is difficult to be maintained continuously, especially during high eruptive activities. In the present study, we develop a classification technique based on analyses of seismic wave correlation. The technique is based on a measure of spatial coherence using the distribution width of eigenvalues from the seismic covariance matrix that is referred to as 'spectral width'. We use the spectral width characteristics to extract the frequencies where the seismic signals are the most spatially coherent. We analyse 6-month continuous seismic data at six seismic stations deployed on Sakurajima volcano, Japan. The classification is performed every 10 min to recognize volcanic tremor and B-type earthquakes, both of which show unclear onsets and are dominant at around 1-4 Hz. Their frequencies of high spatial coherence are different from each other, providing a basis for automatic classification of both types of seismic events. Our classification results show that an increase in seismic activity, particularly volcanic tremors, occurred during high eruptive activity and is well matched with the events that are routinely determined by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) based on visual examination of the data. We discuss the volcanic activities by combining our classification results with those from detections and location methods based on seismic correlation. Most of the source locations of volcanic tremor and B-type earthquakes are distributed at the same region with depths of less than 4 km beneath the active craters, which are almost consistent with the source locations of explosion earthquakes and B-type earthquakes determined from P-wave onsets in the previous studies. Also, the distribution of horizontal locations is spatially elongated at shallow depths above a dyke that is inferred to extend from Aira caldera at a depth of 7-9 km. We obtain deep and shallow sources for the tremor that occurred before and after an explosive eruption, respectively. We also obtain shallow sources beneath the active crater during a continuous tremor that accompanies increasing eruptive activity. The source locations of the classified volcanic tremor and B-type earthquakes may represent the movement of magma and gas from the shallow magma chamber at 5 km depth to the active craters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1077-1097
Number of pages21
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May 1


  • Body waves
  • Volcano monitoring
  • Volcano seismology
  • Wave propagation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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