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Science. 2003 Oct 24;302(5645):622-4. Epub 2003 Sep 25.

Glacial earthquakes.

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  • 1Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 20 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


We have detected dozens of previously unknown, moderate earthquakes beneath large glaciers. The seismic radiation from these earthquakes is depleted at high frequencies, explaining their nondetection by traditional methods. Inverse modeling of the long-period seismic waveforms from the best-recorded earthquake, in southern Alaska, shows that the seismic source is well represented by stick-slip, downhill sliding of a glacial ice mass. The duration of sliding in the Alaska earthquake is 30 to 60 seconds, about 15 to 30 times longer than for a regular tectonic earthquake of similar magnitude.

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