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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 5 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1135-1144, 2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 13 May 2016

Research article | 13 May 2016

Short-term volcano-tectonic earthquake forecasts based on a moving mean recurrence time algorithm: the El Hierro seismo-volcanic crisis experience

Alicia García1, Servando De la Cruz-Reyna2,3, José M. Marrero4,5, and Ramón Ortiz1 Alicia García et al.
  • 1Institute IGEO, CSIC-UCM, J. Gutierrez Abascal, 2, Madrid 28006, Spain
  • 2Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, C. Universitaria, México D.F. 04510, México
  • 3CUEIV, Universidad de Colima, Colima 28045, México
  • 4Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Ladrón de Guevara, P.O. Box 1701-2759, Quito, Ecuador
  • 5Unidad de Gestión, Investigación y Desarrollo, Instituto Geográfico Militar, El Dorado, 170413, Quito, Ecuador

Abstract. Under certain conditions, volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes may pose significant hazards to people living in or near active volcanic regions, especially on volcanic islands; however, hazard arising from VT activity caused by localized volcanic sources is rarely addressed in the literature. The evolution of VT earthquakes resulting from a magmatic intrusion shows some orderly behaviour that may allow the occurrence and magnitude of major events to be forecast. Thus governmental decision makers can be supplied with warnings of the increased probability of larger-magnitude earthquakes on the short-term timescale. We present here a methodology for forecasting the occurrence of large-magnitude VT events during volcanic crises; it is based on a mean recurrence time (MRT) algorithm that translates the Gutenberg-Richter distribution parameter fluctuations into time windows of increased probability of a major VT earthquake. The MRT forecasting algorithm was developed after observing a repetitive pattern in the seismic swarm episodes occurring between July and November 2011 at El Hierro (Canary Islands). From then on, this methodology has been applied to the consecutive seismic crises registered at El Hierro, achieving a high success rate in the real-time forecasting, within 10-day time windows, of volcano-tectonic earthquakes.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Earthquakes of volcanic origin (VT) represent a significant hazard in volcanic islands prone to landslides. We present a methodology to forecast large VT earthquakes during volcanic crises based on an algorithm that translates fluctuations of the level of seismicity into 10-day time windows of increased probability of a major event. This algorithm has been successfully applied during the 2011–2013 volcanic crisis at El Hierro (Canary Islands).
Earthquakes of volcanic origin (VT) represent a significant hazard in volcanic islands prone to...