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Seismologically Observed Spatiotemporal Drainage Activity at Moulins

Aso, Naofumi and Tsai, Victor C. and Schoof, Christian and Flowers, Gwenn E. and Whiteford, Arran and Rada, Camilo (2017) Seismologically Observed Spatiotemporal Drainage Activity at Moulins. Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth, 122 (11). pp. 9095-9108. ISSN 2169-9313. doi:10.1002/2017JB014578.

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Hydrology is important for glacier dynamics, but it is difficult to monitor the subsurface drainage systems of glaciers by direct observations. Since meltwater drainage generates seismic signals, passive seismic analysis has the potential to be used to monitor these processes. To study continuous seismic radiation from the drainage, we analyze geophone data from six stations deployed at the Kaskawulsh Glacier in Yukon, Canada, during the summer of 2014 using ambient noise cross-correlation techniques. We locate the noise sources by backprojecting the amplitude of the cross correlation to the glacier surface. Most of the ambient noise sequences are found in two clusters, with each cluster located in the vicinity of a moulin identified at the surface. Stronger seismic radiation is observed during the day, consistent with expected variability in melt rates. We demonstrate that the sparse seismic network array with 2 km station separation has the ability to detect moulins within the array with a precision of 50 m. We confirm that seismic activity is correlated with air temperature, and thus, melt, on a diurnal timescale, and precipitation correlates with the activity at longer timescales. Our results highlight the potential of passive seismic observations for monitoring water flow into subglacial channels through moulins with an affordable number of seismic stations, but quantification of water flow rates still remains a challenge. The cross-correlation backprojection technique described here can also potentially be applied to any localized source of ambient noise such as ocean noise, tectonic tremor, and volcanic tremor.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Aso, Naofumi0000-0001-6255-7494
Tsai, Victor C.0000-0003-1809-6672
Flowers, Gwenn E.0000-0002-3574-9324
Additional Information:© 2017 American Geophysical Union. Received 17 JUN 2017; Accepted 17 OCT 2017; Accepted article online 19 OCT 2017; Published online 11 NOV 2017. We thank C. Zdanowicz and L. Copland for the meteorological data at the weather station at the confluence. We acknowledge the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the California Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University. We are grateful to the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) and Kluane Lake Research Station for logistical support. We are grateful to the Kluane First Nation, Parks Canada, and Yukon Territorial Government for permission to conduct field work. WorldView-1 imagery was obtained through the Polar Geospatial Center, University of Minnesota. This work was partially supported by the National Science Foundation grant EAR-1453263 and JSPS KAKENHI grant JP17H06605. Comments from two anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor helped to improve the manuscript. Seismic data used in this paper are provided in the supporting information.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Canada Research Chairs ProgramUNSPECIFIED
University of British ColumbiaUNSPECIFIED
Simon Fraser UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)JP17H06605
Subject Keywords:cryoseismology; ambient noise; backprojection; glacier hydrology; moulins
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180117-155132585
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Aso, N., Tsai, V. C., Schoof, C., Flowers, G. E., Whiteford, A., & Rada, C. (2017). Seismologically observed spatiotemporal drainage activity at moulins. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 122, 9095–9108.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84374
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Jan 2018 00:00
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:19

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