Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-329
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-329

  25 Oct 2021

25 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Long term analysis of cryoseismic events and associated ground thermal stress in Adventdalen, Svalbard

Rowan Romeyn1, Alfred Hanssen1, and Andreas Köhler1,2 Rowan Romeyn et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  • 2NORSAR, Gunnar Randers vei 15, 2007 Kjeller, Norway

Abstract. The small-aperture Spitsbergen seismic array (SPITS) has been in continuous operation at Janssonhaugen for decades. The high Artic location in the Svalbard archipelago makes SPITS an ideal laboratory for the study of cryoseisms, a nontectonic class of seismic events caused by freeze processes in ice, ice-soil and ice-rock materials. We extracted a catalogue of > 100 000 events from the nearly continuous observation period between 2004 and 2021, characterized by short duration ground shaking of just a few seconds. This catalogue contains two main subclasses where one subclass is related to underground coal mining activities and the other is inferred to be dominated by frost quakes resulting from thermal contraction cracking of ice wedges or other segregated ice bodies. This inference is supported by the correspondence between peaks in observed seismicity with peaks in modelled ground thermal stress, based on a Maxwellian thermo-viscoelastic model constrained by borehole observations of ground temperature. The inferred frost quakes appear to be dominated by surface wave energy and SPITS proximal source positions, with three main areas that are associated with dynamic geomorphological features; boulder producing scarps and solifluction lobes. Seismic stations providing year-round, high temporal resolution measurements of ground motion may be highly complementary to satellite remote sensing methods, such as InSAR, for studying the dynamics of periglacial environments. The long-term observational record presented in this study, containing tens of thousands of cryoseismic events, in combination with a detailed record of borehole ground temperature observations, provides a unique insight into the spatiotemporal patterns of cryoseisms. The observed patterns may guide the development of models that can be used to understand future changes to cryoseismicity based on projected temperatures.

Rowan Romeyn et al.

Status: open (until 25 Dec 2021)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-329', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Nov 2021 reply

Rowan Romeyn et al.

Rowan Romeyn et al.

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Short summary
We have investigated a long term record of ground vibrations, recorded by a seismic array installed in Adventdalen on Svalbard. This record contains a large number of "frost quakes", a type of ground shaking that can be produced by cracks that form as the ground cools rapidly. We use underground temperatures measured in a nearby borehole to model the thermal expansion and contraction forces that can cause these cracks. We also use the seismic measurements to estimate where these cracks occurred.