The SEA-CALIPSO volcano imaging experiment at Montserrat: Plans, campaigns at sea and on land, scientific results, and lessons learned

B. Voight, R. S J Sparks, E. Shalev, T. Minshull, M. Paulatto, C. Annen, C. Kenedi, J. Hammond, T. J. Henstock, L. Brown, E. Kiddle, P. Malin, G. Mattioli, C. Ammon, E. Arias-Dotson, A. Belousov, K. Byerly, L. Carothers, Amanda Clarke, S. DeanL. Ellett, D. Elsworth, D. Hidayat, R. A. Herd, M. Johnson, A. Lee, V. Miller, B. Murphy, C. Peirce, G. Ryan, S. Saldana, C. Snelson, R. Stewart, R. Syers, J. Taron, J. Trofimovs, C. Widiwijayanti, S. R. Young, W. Zamora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Since 1995 the eruption of the andesitic Soufriére Hills Volcano (SHV), Montserrat, has been studied in substantial detail. As an important contribution to this effort, the Seismic Experiment with Airgunsource-Caribbean Andesitic Lava Island Precision Seismogeodetic Observatory (SEA-CALIPSO) experiment was devised to image the arc crust underlying Montserrat, and, if possible, the magma system at SHV using tomography and reflection seismology. Field operations were carried out in October-December 2007, with deployment of 238 seismometers on land supplementing seven volcano observatory stations, and with an array of 10 oceanbottom seismometers deployed offshore. The RRS James Cook on NERC cruise JC19 towed a tuned airgun array plus a digital 48- channel streamer on encircling and radial tracks for 77 h about Montserrat during December 2007, firing 4414 airgun shots and yielding about 47 Gb of data. The main objecctives of the experiment were achieved. Preliminary analyses of these data published in 2010 generated images of heterogeneous high-velocity bodies representing the cores of volcanoes and subjacent intrusions, and shallow areas of low velocity on the flanks of the island that reflect volcaniclastic deposits and hydrothermal alteration. The resolution of this preliminary work did not extend beyond 5 km depth. An improved three-dimensional (3D) seismic velocity model was then obtained by inversion of 181 665 first-arrival travel times from a more-complete sampling of the dataset, yielding clear images to 7.5 km depth of a low-velocity volume that was interpreted as the magma chamber which feeds the current eruption, with an estimated volume 13 km3. Coupled thermal and seismic modelling revealed properties of the partly crystallized magma. Seismic reflection analyses aimed at imaging structures under southern Montserrat had limited success, and suggest subhorizontal layering interpreted as sills at a depth of between 6 and 19 km. Seismic reflection profiles collected offshore reveal deep fans of volcaniclastic debris and fault offsets, leading to new tectonic interpretations. This chapter presents the project goals and planning concepts, describes in detail the campaigns at sea and on land, summarizes the major results, and identifies the key lessons learned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-289
Number of pages37
JournalGeological Society Memoir
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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