Icequake locations and discrimination of source and path effects with small aperture arrays, Bering Glacier terminus, AK

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The complex source processes associated with both glacier calving and the breakup of icebergs, combined with commonly heterogeneous periglacial seismic velocity structure, can result in complicated seismic records. Key features of the waveforms, which are typically characterized by low-amplitude or emergent first-arrivals and long-duration, narrow-band codas, have been attributed to either source processes or propagation path effects. This uncertainty must be addressed in order for seismic data to be effective for studying the calving process as it relates to terminus dynamics. In this study, we use sets of 3-element arrays of 3-component geophones and infrasound sensors to locate calving and iceberg breakup events and isolate path effects in the seismic records obtained near the Bering Glacier terminus in the summer of 2010. Using waveform correlation, we treat each array as an antenna and determine the direction to the source and apparent velocity of the wavefield across the array. The initial few (∼3) cycles of P waves recorded from an array, beam formed to identify coherent arrivals for each event, are useful for deriving a propagation azimuth and apparent velocity, allowing for location of events using a small number of similar arrays. We locate 125 calving and iceberg breakup events near the terminus with this method. We also demonstrate that the longer-lived narrow-band coda is not coherent across individual arrays, suggesting that the narrow-band coda observed at the Bering Glacier is attributable to a path effect rather than to the source process. The large number of iceberg breakup events that we located has important implications for other calving glaciers where icebergs are present, and calving rates may be erroneously overestimated from the seismic data if their contribution is not taken into account. © 2012 American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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Journal of Geophysical Research F: Earth Surface