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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  25 Jun 2020

25 Jun 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Passive seismic recording of cryoseisms in Adventdalen, Svalbard

Rowan Romeyn1,2, Alfred Hanssen1,2, Bent Ole Ruud2,3, Helene Meling Stemland2,3, and Tor Arne Johansen2,3,4 Rowan Romeyn et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  • 2Research Centre for Arctic Petroleum Exploration (ARCEx)
  • 3Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, 5007 Bergen, Norway
  • 4The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), 9171 Longyearbyen, Norway

Abstract. A series of transient seismic events were discovered in passive seismic recordings from 2D geophone arrays deployed at a frost polygon site in Adventdalen, Svalbard. These events contain a high proportion of surface wave energy and produce high-quality dispersion images through an innovative source localisation approach, based on apparent offset resorting and inter-trace delay minimisation, followed by cross-correlation beamforming dispersion imaging. The dispersion images are highly analogous to surface wave studies of pavements and display a complex multimodal dispersion pattern. Supported by theoretical modelling based on a highly simplified arrangement of horizontal layers, we infer that a ~ 3.5–4.5 m thick, stiff, high-velocity layer overlies a ~ 30 m thick layer that is significantly softer and slower at our study site. Based on previous studies we link the upper layer with syngenetic ground-ice formed in aeolian sediments, while the underlying layer is linked to epigenetic permafrost in marine-deltaic sediments containing unfrozen saline pore water. Comparing events from spring and autumn shows that temporal variation can be resolved via passive seismic monitoring. The transient seismic events that we record occur during periods of rapidly changing air temperature. This correlation along with the spatial clustering along the elevated river terrace in a known frost polygon, ice-wedge area and the high proportion of surface wave energy constitutes the primary evidence for us to interpret these events as frost quakes, a class of cryoseism. In this study we have proved the concept of passive seismic monitoring of permafrost in Adventdalen, Svalbard.

Rowan Romeyn et al.

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Rowan Romeyn et al.

Rowan Romeyn et al.


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Latest update: 03 Dec 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
A series of unusual ground motion signatures were identified in geophone recordings at a frost polygon site in Adventdalen on Svalbard. By analysing where the ground motion originated in time and space we are able to classify them as cryoseisms, also known as frost quakes, a ground cracking phenomenon that occurs as a result of freezing processes. The waves travelling through the ground produced by these frost quakes also allow us to measure the structure of the permafrost in the near surface.
A series of unusual ground motion signatures were identified in geophone recordings at a frost...