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Gondwana Research 24 (2013) 12231236

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Repeating volcano-tectonic earthquakes at Mt. Etna volcano (Sicily, Italy) during 19992009
Andrea Cannata , Salvatore Alparone, Andrea Ursino
Istituto Nazionale di Geosica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio Etneo Sezione di Catania, Piazza Roma 2, 95123 Catania, Italy

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Repeating volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes, taking place at Mt. Etna during 19992009, were detected and analyzed to investigate their behavior. We found 735 families amounting to 2479 VT earthquakes, representing ~38% of all the analyzed VT earthquakes. The number of VT earthquakes making up the families ranges from 2 to 23. Over 70% of the families comprise 2 or 3 VT earthquakes and only 20 families by more than 10 events. The occurrence lifetime is also highly variable ranging from some minutes to ten years. In particular, more than half of the families have a lifetime shorter than 0.5 day and only ~10% longer than 1 year. On the basis of these results, most of the detected families were considered burst-type, i.e., show swarm-like occurrence, and hence their origin cannot be explained by a temporally constant tectonic loading. Indeed, since the analyzed earthquakes take place in a volcanic area, the rocks are affected not only by tectonic stresses related to the fairly steady regional stress eld but also by local stresses, caused by the volcano, such as magma batch intrusions/ movements and gravitational loading. We focused on the ve groups of families characterized by the longest repeatability over time, namely high number of events and long lifetime, located in the north-eastern, eastern and southern anks of the volcano. Unlike the rst four groups, which similarly to most of the detected families show swarm-like VT occurrences, group v, located in the north-eastern sector, exhibits a more tectonic behavior with the events making up such a group spread over almost the entire analyzed period. It is clear how both occurrence and slip rates do not remain constant but vary over time, and such changes are time-related to the occurrence of the 20022003 eruption. Finally, by FPFIT algorithm a good agreement between directions identied by nodal planes and the earthquake epicentral distribution was generally found. 2013 International Association for Gondwana Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 21 June 2012 Received in revised form 4 February 2013 Accepted 25 February 2013 Available online 22 March 2013 Handling Editor: A.R.A. Aitken Keywords: Volcano tectonic earthquakes Repeating earthquakes Mt. Etna volcano Pernicana fault

1. Introduction Multiplets, also called repeating earthquakes (e.g. Chen et al., 2008) or earthquake families (Tsujiura, 1983), are earthquakes with similar waveforms. A high degree of waveform similarity implies the same source mechanism and locations, varying roughly within one fourth of the dominant wavelength of the events (Geller and Mueller, 1980). However, the exact fraction of the wavelength depends on many factors including the heterogeneity of the velocity structure around the source (e.g. Nakahara, 2004). Multiplets have been observed at many active volcanoes such as Soufriere Hills (Rowe et al., 2004), Redoubt (Buurman et al., in press), Mt. St. Helens and Bezyamianny (Thelen et al., 2011) and Mt. Etna (Alparone and Gambino, 2003), as well as in non-volcanic areas (for instance along transform faults and subduction zones; e.g. Nadeau et al., 1995; Igarashi et al., 2003). Because of their particular characteristic of having repeatable sources at the same spot but at different times (Schaff and Beroza, 2004), multiplets have many seismological applications: highly precise locations to
Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 095 7165843; fax: +39 095 7165826. E-mail addresses: (A. Cannata), (S. Alparone), (A. Ursino).

highlight seismic structures at depth (e.g. Waldhauser et al., 2004); detection of temporal variations of attenuation (e.g. Antolik et al., 1996), shear wave splitting (e.g. Zaccarelli et al., 2009; Johnson et al., 2010) and medium velocity (e.g. Schaff and Beroza, 2004; Cociani et al., 2010); to acquire information on the dynamics of active faults and their slip rate (e.g. Chen et al., 2008); nally, in volcanic environments, evaluation of the volcano conditions (e.g. Green and Neuberg, 2006; Thelen et al., 2011). Several papers have dealt with multiplets detected at Mt. Etna. For instance, Alparone and Gambino (2003) performed high precision location analysis of multiplets of volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes recorded during 2001. Brancato and Gresta (2003) analyzed the multiplets accompanying the beginning of the 19911993 eruption. Zaccarelli et al. (2009) applied coda wave interferometry and shear wave splitting techniques on multiplets of VT earthquakes to evaluate wave propagation effects during the waning phase of the 20022003 eruption. The structural features of Mt. Etna appear rather complex. On the volcano surface different fault and ssure systems can be recognized. The most outstanding tectonic features at Mt. Etna are clearly recognizable on the eastern and south-eastern anks of the volcano, where the clearest morphological evidence of active faulting exists (Azzaro et al.,

1342-937X/$ see front matter 2013 International Association for Gondwana Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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2012). Here, seismogenic faults can be related to the NNWSSE Malta Escarpment, that is the main lithospheric structure in the eastern Sicily (Scandone et al., 1981), to which the Timpe Fault System is closely associated (Fig. 1; Azzaro et al., 2012). Other seismogenetic faults, though not recognizable on the surface, may be linked to the NESW, ENEWSW fault systems that control the tectonic evolution of the northern margin of the Hyblean Plateau (Torelli et al., 1998). Seismic data analysis has shown that ~ 50% of the VT earthquakes at Mt. Etna are shallow (focal depth b 5 km b.s.l.) and mainly located in the eastern ank (Patan et al., 2004). Similar to what has been observed in many volcanic areas (McNutt, 2005), these earthquakes, showing magnitude generally lower than 4.0 (e.g., Ferrucci and Patan, 1993), mostly occur in the form of swarms (Patan et al., 2004). The eastern ank of Mt. Etna is characterized by frequent shallow seismic activity (depth b 7 km b.s.l.; Alparone et al., 2011). Conversely, the western ank of Mt. Etna, normally characterized by a deeper seismicity (depth > 5 km b.s.l.), is considered the most stable sector of the volcano. According to Patan et al. (2004), three main source processes are involved in the generation of VT seismicity at Mt. Etna: i) regional tectonic stresses, which induce shear failure on fracture or fault planes; ii) local stresses generated by the migration of magma in the crust; iii) local stresses due to the ination/deation of the volcano edice. Different kinds of activity have characterized the eruptive activity at Mt. Etna over the past decade. Two major eruptions, characterized by very intense explosive activity, took place in 2001 and 20022003 in the southern and northeastern anks of the volcano, producing

~30 106 m3 and ~50 106 m3 of lava/tephra (dense rock equivalent, DRE) (e.g. Allard et al., 2006). Successively, after about 20 months of quiescence, on 7 September 2004 an eruption took place at two vents within Valle del Bove, emitting essentially degassed magma (~40 106 m3 DRE; Burton et al., 2005; Allard et al., 2006). After a 15-month-long period, mainly characterized by degassing, the eruptive activity resumed in late 2006 with strombolian activity, lava fountaining and lava overows, producing ~25 106 m3 of lava/tephra (DRE; Behncke et al., 2009). After 7 lava fountain episodes, the last eruption started on 13 May 2008 from an eruptive ssure that opened east of the summit area (e.g. Cannata et al., 2009; Bonaccorso et al., 2011). This eruption, ending on 6 July 2009, was characterized by both effusive and explosive activities (Bonaccorso et al., 2011; Cannata et al., 2011) and emitted ~77 106 m3 of lava/tephra (DRE; Neri et al., 2011). The aim of this work is to detect and characterize the multiplets taking place at Mt. Etna during 19992009, as well as to investigate the dynamics of the seismogenic structures generating them and interaction processes between eruptions and particular seismogenic structures. This is the rst work dealing with such a complete dataset of VT earthquakes with the purpose not only of investigating Mt. Etna multiplets, but also, more generally, of studying the behavior of VT earthquakes in volcanic areas as well as eruptionearthquake interactions. 2. Data analysis 2.1. Seismic network The seismic network is made up of ~ 100 stations, located in a wide area, comprising eastern Sicily, the Aeolian Islands and southern Calabria, most of which are clustered in the Etnean region (Fig. 1a). This network was managed by Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia and Sistema Poseidon until 2001, and from then on by Istituto Nazionale di Geosica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio Etneo Sezione di Catania (INGV-CT). From 1999 to 2009, the seismic network was progressively improved both by the installation of a higher number of stations and by the replacement of analog, one-component, short-period (1 s) seismometers with digital three-component, broadband (40 s) seismometers. This means that not only were all the stations not equipped with the same seismometers, but also the sensor equipping a single station changed over time. 2.2. VT earthquake dataset During the period August 1999December 2009, the number of earthquakes located was equal to 6464. Their time distribution and cumulative seismic strain release as well as the main eruptive periods are reported in Fig. 2a. The average duration magnitude (Md) is equal to 1.9 with minimum and maximum values of 0.5 and 4.4, respectively (Fig. 2b). The locations of these VT earthquakes were obtained from the catalog compiled by Gruppo Analisi Dati Sismici (2012), belonging to INGV-CT. Such locations were calculated by using HYPOELLIPSE algorithm (Lahr, 1999) and the 1D velocity model of Hirn et al. (1991), modied as reported by Patan et al. (1994). The average values of gap, RMS, horizontal and vertical errors (136, 0.14 s, 0.78 km and 0.67 km, respectively) testify the high quality of such locations. The space distribution of VT earthquakes is plotted in the map and section in Fig. 3a. Most of the VTs are located at shallow depth (b 7 km b.s.l.) in the eastern ank of the volcano. On the other hand, the deep seismicity (focal depth > 15 km b.s.l.) mainly affects the western ank. 2.3. Waveform classication method We looked for repeating VTs occurring during 19992009 and belonging to the dataset shown in Section 2.2. We used waveforms recorded by the vertical component of 10 stations (Fig. 1b), characterized

Fig. 1. (a) Map of Sicily and southern Calabria; the triangles indicate the stations used for analytical location, and, in particular, the white triangles indicate the ten stations also used for the waveform classication. (b) Schematic structural map of Mt. Etna volcano (redrawn from Neri et al., 2009) with the location of the ten stations used for the waveform classication. SEC indicates South East Crater.

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Fig. 2. (a) Time distribution of the VT earthquakes at Mt. Etna during 19992009 (histogram) and their cumulative seismic strain release curve (gray line). The red areas show the main eruptive periods. (b) Histogram showing the number of VT earthquakes versus their duration magnitude. The seismic energy (E) was computed using the following equation: logE (erg) = 9.9 + 1.9 M 0.024 M2 (Richter, 1958).

by a long time recording period and showing a fairly good coverage of the Mt. Etna area. The signals were band-pass ltered from 1 to 20 Hz. The 1-Hz high-pass lter was applied because, as mentioned in Section 2.1, during the analyzed 10-year period the stations were equipped with different sensors, characterized by distinct instrument response especially at low frequencies (b 1 Hz). Furthermore, anthropic high frequency noise at the stations closest to the towns on the Mt. Etna anks made the use of 20-Hz low-pass lter necessary. 5-second signal windows, starting 0.5 s before the P-wave arrival time, were extracted. Then, a cross correlation value was calculated for each VT window pair. In particular, the windows were also shifted one with respect to the other one (maximum shift equal to 1 s) to nd the best alignment and then the highest cross correlation value. Once a cross correlation matrix for each station was obtained, the method of Green and Neuberg (2006) was applied to extract families of VTs with similar waveforms separately for each station. A critical point of this method, as well as of all the methods based on the cross correlation coefcient, is the choice of the cross correlation threshold, on which the classication results heavily depend. To try to choose such a value properly, we visualized the histograms showing the number of VT pairs versus the values of cross correlation for all the chosen stations (Fig. 4a). Most of the values range between 0.1 and 0.3 and showed a normal distribution as expected for random signals (Fig. 4a). However, a small percentage of VTs, with higher correlation coefcient and then similar waveforms, deviates from the normal distribution (Fig. 4b). As suggested by other authors (Maurer and Deichmann, 1995; Ferretti et al., 2005; Thelen et al., 2011), the range of acceptable cross correlation values starts where the histogram shows a sudden attering and deviates from a pure normal distribution. Thus, the cross correlation threshold was xed to 0.8. To verify such a value, we used the VT locations shown in Section 2.2. Then, following

Peng and Ben-Zion (2005), contour plots in Fig. 4c,d, showing the number of VT pairs with a given value of cross correlation coefcient and hypocentral distance, were drawn. Unlike the plot in Fig. 4c, the one in Fig. 4d is normalized, that is, each column, containing the number of VT pairs with a given small range of cross correlation values, was divided by its maximum value. Fig. 4c shows that most of the VT pairs are characterized by cross correlation values and hypocentral distances ranging in 0.10.3 and 515 km, respectively. Fig. 4d highlights that the event pairs with high cross correlation values are mostly located very close to each other. For instance, a cross correlation value of 0.8, which as aforementioned was chosen as the threshold, is good to reliably isolate the event pairs located very close to each other and can also be considered fairly restrictive for most of the used stations. Once the cross correlation threshold was xed, the classication procedure was performed separately for each station. In this method no overlap was allowed between clusters; indeed, an event, assigned to a family, is removed from the cross correlation matrix. Successively, to merge the results of the 10 classications (obtained by the 10 stations), we used the following criterion: if the event a belongs to the family 1 at the station STA1 and to the family 2 at the station STA2, the families 1 and 2 are unied into a single family. This procedure might seem insufciently restrictive to create families containing repeating events. However, it was considered reliable for the following reasons: i) the window length used in the cross correlation analysis is equal to 5 s, that is, twice the window length suggested in Schaff et al. (2004), and, in most cases, due to the short station-hypocenter distance, it is enough to include both P and S phases; ii) the lack of bridge events, used in the bridging or open clustering technique (Aster and Scott, 1993) and not in the used Green and Neuberg (2006) method, requires that all the events belonging to a family in the single station classication have a cross correlation coefcient with the stacked event above the threshold;

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Fig. 3. (a) Epicentral map and WE cross-section of VT earthquakes occurring during 19992009, located by HYPOELLIPSE algorithm. (b) Epicentral map and cross-section of VT earthquakes, belonging to the families detected in this work, located by HypoDD algorithm. The gray lines in the top plot are elevation contours at 500-m intervals. The contour labels in the maps indicate the contour altitude in m a.s.l.

iii) the chosen cross correlation threshold is rather higher than the minimum value separating the similar events close to each other from all the remaining ones (Fig. 4d). Finally, this criterion was considered suited to our dataset because of the long analyzed time period and consequently the possible low percentage of temporal coverage of the single stations. After applying such a method, a detailed visual checkout was performed both to verify the similarity of the events belonging to a single cluster and to remove glitch-type clusters. 2.4. Waveform classication results We found 735 families that total to 2479 VT earthquakes, representing ~38% of all the VT earthquake dataset. The number of VT earthquakes making up the families ranges from 2 to 23 (Fig. 5a). Over 70% of the families comprise 2 (doublets) or 3 (triplets) VT earthquakes, and only 20 families of more than 10 events. For instance, Fig. 6 shows the waveforms of the VT earthquakes in the family 198 recorded by the vertical component of EMFO station. Also the occurrence lifetime is highly variable, ranging from minutes to ten years (the whole analyzed period; Fig. 5b). Therefore, following Igarashi et al. (2003) and Chen et al. (2009), we can recognize burst-type and nonburst-type families. The former are made up of VT earthquakes taking place in a short time period (b 1 year in this work), while the latter of VTs spread over a longer interval. It is worth noting that more than half of the families have a lifetime shorter than 0.5 day and only ~10% longer than 1 year.

On the basis of these results and the above mentioned nomenclature, most of the detected families can be considered burst-type. Then, we investigated the recurrence time (hereafter referred to as Tr) of the VT earthquakes and found that most of the events are characterized by recurrence times shorter than 5 days (Fig. 5c). A parameter used to quantify the variability of some features of the VT families is the coefcient of variation (hereafter referred to as COV; e.g. Li et al., 2011) given by the standard deviation divided by the mean value. It was calculated for Tr and Md of all the families and plotted in Fig. 5d and e, respectively. Concerning Tr, COV equal to 0 implies perfect periodicity, COV close to 0 quasi-periodicity, COV = 1 Poissonian recurrence, that means unpredictability, and COV > 1 temporal clustering. As shown in Fig. 5d, most of the families are characterized by COV values greater than 1 and then by temporal clustering. On the other hand, COV calculated on Md shows values lower than 0.5, suggesting that each family is characterized by VT earthquakes with similar Md values (Fig. 5e). 2.5. Families with the longest repeatability over time We focused on the families characterized by the longest repeatability over time, that is, high number of events and long lifetime. In particular, we considered a number of events higher than 6 and a lifetime longer than 1 year, and found 16 families. In Fig. 7 the locations of the VT earthquakes making up these families are plotted and grouped into 5 groups. Group i comprises 2 families containing relatively deep

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Fig. 4. (a,b) Number of pairs of VT earthquakes versus the cross correlation coefcient at the 10 stations used for the waveform classication. (c) Contour plots showing the number of VT pairs with a given value of cross correlation coefcient and hypocentral distance at the 10 stations used for the waveform classication. (d) Normalized contour plots showing the number of VT pairs with a given value of cross correlation coefcient and hypocentral distance at the 10 stations used for the waveform classication (see Section 2.3 for details). The red dashed lines indicate the chosen cross correlation threshold.

VT earthquakes (depth 1015 km b.s.l.) with epicenters in the southern ank of the volcano (called the South Rift). Groups ii, iii and iv, made up of 4, 2 and 1 families, respectively, are located in the eastern ank at depth 05, 310 and 810 km b.s.l., respectively. Finally, group v contains 7 families and is located at shallow depth (b 5 km b.s.l.) in the north-eastern sector of the volcano. This zone is affected by an important structure called the Pernicana Fault System (e.g. Alparone et al., in press). In Figs. 8 and 9a the occurrence times of the events in these 5 groups are reported. While the rst 4 groups contain families mainly taking place in a single swarm and another 12 isolated events, the group v comprises families more spread out over the analyzed period. This difference reects on the higher COV values, calculated on the Tr (indicated by COV in Fig. 8 and ranging from 1.73 to 3.60), of the groups iiv than the group v (indicated by COVtot in Fig. 9a and comprised between 0.55 and 1.51). Another interesting feature of the group v is the clear increasing trend of the Tr, visible for almost all the families, and then the decreasing trend of occurrence rate (Fig. 9a). In particular, the highest occurrence rate was observed during 20022003, at the same time and right after an important eruption, accompanied by an intense ank dynamics, took place (Acocella et al., 2003). In order to investigate this behavior we compared COVtot values, calculated on the whole 19992009 period, and COVpost, on the time span interval following the 20022003 eruption (in particular July 2003December 2009). All the 7 families, making up group v, showed signicantly lower values of COVpost than COVtot. In four cases (families 2, 3, 9 and 207) COVpost proved much lower than 1, suggesting that such families after the ank eruption phases were characterized by a quasi-periodic behavior. Further, following the method of Nadeau and McEvilly (1999), we determined the slip related to these specic VT families. The assumption behind this method is that a repeating earthquake sequence is caused by repeated ruptures of small asperities surrounded by a stably sliding area (e.g. Uchida et al., 2003). In view of this, the used equation, relating the seismic moment (M0 expressed in dyne cm)

with the slip (di in cm) and proposed by Nadeau and Johnson (1998), is the following one: di 10



The coefcients 2.36 and 0.17 were empirically derived from earthquake and geodetic data at Parkeld area, but were also used to infer slip rate in other regions such as Japan subduction zone (Matsuzawa et al., 2002; Igarashi et al., 2003; Uchida et al., 2003; Matsuzawa et al., 2004; Uchida et al., 2006; Kimura et al., 2006; Yamashita et al., 2012), Chihshang fault (eastern Taiwan; Chen et al., 2008) and northern Longitudinal Valley fault (eastern Taiwan; Rau et al., 2007). To calculate the seismic moment from Md we used the following equation (Patan et al., 1993): logM0 17:8 1:9 0:9 0:1Md : 2

Similarly to the occurrence rate of the VT earthquakes, also the cumulative slip rate did not remain steady during the analyzed period, but showed an acceleration during 20022003 (Fig. 9c). In particular, the average slip rate of the 7 families changed from 47 11 cm/year (calculated from 1 July 2002 to 1 July 2003) to 11 3 cm/year (calculated from 1 July 2003 to 1 July 2009). After the high slip rate period, the families 2, 3, 9 and 207 exhibited an almost constant slip rate. To reliably estimate the slip along a fault patch, it is necessary that all the generated VT earthquakes are detected and properly classied. Concerning the detection issue, the catalog completeness threshold in the Etnean area is equal to 1.5 during the 10-year analyzed period and in the interval 20052010 it was equal to 1.3 (Alparone et al., 2010). Since 75 out of 77 earthquakes belonging to the considered families have magnitude higher than 1.5 (Fig. 9b; the 2 earthquakes with Md = 1.3 took place in 2009), the dataset can be considered fairly complete during the analyzed period. Further, since the completeness threshold gradually decreased from 2005, the observed decreasing trend of the slip rate can truly be considered reliable. Regarding the classication problem, the used multi-station method signicantly

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Fig. 5. (a) Histogram showing the number of families with a given number of VT earthquakes. (b) Histogram showing the number of VT earthquake families with a given lifetime. (c) Histogram of recurrence time (Tr) for VT earthquake families. (d) COV in Tr for VT earthquake families. (e) COV in Md for VT earthquake families.

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Fig. 6. Waveforms of VT earthquakes, making up the family 198, recorded at the vertical component of EMFO station. The bottom trace is the stacked waveform.

reduces the probability of undetected/missing events. Finally, the maximum cumulative slips, calculated by this method for families 1 and 3 (~160 and 150 cm, respectively), have very similar values to the slip along the Pernicana fault obtained by GPS and EDM measurements (~140 cm during 20022005; Palano et al., 2006; Bonforte et al., 2007). 2.6. Fault plane solutions We calculated the focal plane solutions (FPSs) using the FPFIT algorithm (Reasenberg and Oppenheimer, 1985) and veried that the earthquakes belonging to the same family have similar fault plane orientations. Lower-hemisphere, equal area projection was used to plot rst motion data and evaluate nodal planes and orientation of the main strain axis. The following selection criteria were used: number of polarities >8, number of polarity discrepancies b 20%, focal plane uncertainty b 20, and unique unambiguous solutions. For the events belonging to groups i, ii, iv, and v we considered the overlap of individual planes of single solutions (Fig. 7). The mean and mode values associated to the errors of nodal plane directions are 8 and 5, respectively. These low values, together with the used selection criteria, assured a good reliability of the focal solutions. The nodal plane directions ranged between 6 and 67. Generally, the nodal planes overlap along two preferential directions one of which often coincides with a structural trend known from literature data. In group i, located in the southern sector of the volcano called South Rift (Fig. 1), we found a strong similarity between all the FPSs. For this group, the epicentral distribution does not dene a clear alignment and therefore it is not possible to identify a direction associated to one of the nodal planes (Fig. 7). In group ii, located in the Valle del Bove (Fig. 1b), between the two directions identied by nodal planes (~ EW and NNESSW) the ~ EW direction seems to better t the epicentral distribution. In literature there are no data about similar structural trends in this area. In group iii, located in the eastern ank of the volcano, since it was not possible to calculate the individual FPS due to the low energy of earthquakes (maximum magnitude is equal to 2.2), we calculated a composite mechanism. This focal solution,

Fig. 7. Map (top) and section (bottom) of Mt. Etna with the spatial distribution of the ve identied groups (iv). For groups i, ii, iv, and v the overlaps of the nodal planes are reported in various colors. For the group iii a composite focal mechanism (in white and red) was calculated. The nodal planes that are roughly coincident with the epicentral distribution are marked in black.

together with the earthquake epicentral distribution (Fig. 7), allowed the distinguishing of the probable fault plane (NWSE), that could be associated with the Timpe Fault System (Fig. 1b). In group iv, located close to the Ionian coastline, there is only one family with earthquakes showing similar kinematics, and in particular the ~ EW direction is likely more consistent with the earthquake spatial distribution (Fig. 7). Concerning group v, the nodal planes overlap is not as clear. This could be ascribed to the heterogeneity of the kinematics present along the Pernicana Fault System (Fig. 1b; Alparone et al., in press), as well as to the extreme shallowness of earthquakes (Azzaro et al., 1998; Alparone et al., in press), and then to the inadequacy of the velocity model for the surface layers leading to high instability in computing FPSs. However, a peculiar feature linking FPSs of this group is the evidence of a nodal plane approximately with EW direction, in agreement with the epicentral distribution (Fig. 7) and surface structural alignment. 2.7. Time relation among VT earthquake families We investigated potential relationships among the occurrence times of the VT earthquakes belonging to different families by performing the following analysis. A given couple of VT families was taken into account. If there are at least two different 10-day long windows (shifting from 1999 to 2009) within which an earthquake per family takes place, the two families are considered time-related. After analyzing all the possible couples of families, we found that several families can be considered time-related to each other. In spite of the applied 10-day long windows,

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Fig. 8. Times of occurrence of the VT earthquakes in the families making up groups iiv (see text for details).

it is worth noting that ~70% of the detected earthquake couples, each of which is made up of events that are time-related to each other and belonging to two different families, shows a time delay shorter than 1 day. Then, three different sets of time-related families were distinguished: a) Pernicana Fault System set; b) Pernicana and time-related structures set; c) other sets located in the southern and eastern anks of the volcano. Focusing on the rst one, it was highlighted that many families, whose VT earthquakes were located in the Pernicana fault area, are closely time-related to each other (Fig. 10a). For instance, on 25 August 2009, earthquakes belonging to nine different families took place. There are also cases when the families of earthquakes located in the Pernicana fault area are related with relatively distant families located ~5 km east of the summit area (Fig. 10b).

Finally, the third set comprises several sub-sets each of which made up of two or three families that are time-related to each other (each subset is characterized by a different color in Fig. 10c). Also in this case there are time-related families close to each other, such as families 7, 185 and 464 (yellow dots in Fig. 10c), as well as relatively distant ones from each other, such as 376 and 568 (light green dots in Fig. 10c). 2.8. HypoDD relocation The 2479 VT earthquakes, making up the 735 families, were relocated using HypoDD, the double-differencing algorithm of Waldhauser and Ellsworth (2000) and Waldhauser (2001). As stated by Waldhauser

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Fig. 9. Times of occurrence, magnitude and cumulative slip of the VT earthquakes belonging to seven families located in the Pernicana area and contained in the group v.

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(2001), this technique takes advantage of the fact that if the hypocentral separation between two earthquakes is small compared to the event-station distance and the scale length of the velocity heterogeneity, then the ray paths between the source region and a common station are similar. Thus, the travel time difference for two events observed at one station can be attributed to the spatial offset between the events with high accuracy. The data used to perform the HypoDD relocation consisted of both catalog and cross correlation differential times. Concerning the former, the 30,502 P-phase and 6663 S-phase picks at 103 stations allowed calculating 460,888 P and 60,173 S catalog differential times. To get these differential times the maximum event-station distance was set as 200 km, and the maximum hypocentral separation as 4 km. The cross correlation differential times (35,182 P and 5058 S) were computed by comparing events belonging to the same cluster. Because of the high number of VT earthquakes the conjugate gradient method (LSQR) was used. The minimum number of catalog and cross correlation observations were set as 7 and 6, respectively. As suggested by Waldhauser (2001), to properly combine the two datasets of differential times, strong weights were given to the catalog data in the initial iterations, and almost exclusively the cross correlation data were used in the later iterations. In particular, we apply the weight scheme shown by Johnson et al. (2010). Using such a technique 999 earthquakes, constituting about 40% of the dataset of clustered events, were located. The high number of discarded earthquakes was due to both the presence of very shallow events (airquakes) and to the paucity of picked phases per earthquake, especially during the very rst years of the analyzed period. The mean errors of the HYPOELLIPSE locations of the VT earthquakes making up the families are 0.78 km and 0.67 km horizontally and vertically, respectively. The average error, estimated by HypoDD, is ~20 m in both horizontal and vertical directions. However, since the LSQR method has the drawback of underestimating the errors, to verify the reliability of the error evaluation, 10 VT earthquake families were located by singular value decomposition technique. The SVD error values were of the order of 20 m, and then very similar to the LSQR errors. The results, reported in Fig. 3b, show different rock volumes characterized by clustered seismicity. For instance, in the eastern ank of the volcano at 05 km b.s.l. there are areas with high seismicity, already recognizable in plots with HYPOELLIPSE locations (Fig. 3a) and already shown in other papers (e.g. Alparone et al., 2011). Another volume with clustered seismicity is located in the southern ank at shallow depth ( 1 to 2 km b.s.l.). Finally, there are also deeper rock volumes with high seismicity, such as in the southern ank at 1015 km b.s.l. and in the western ank at 2025 km b.s.l. 3. Discussion We detected and analyzed the repeating earthquakes occurring at Mt. Etna during 19992009. The number of families found was 735, amounting to 2479 VT earthquakes. It represents ~ 38% of all the analyzed VT earthquakes. The percentage of similar event clusters is rather variable in literature, just as the methods used to detect them are different. For instance, Thelen et al. (2011) analyzing repeating seismicity at Mount St. Helens and Bezymianny showed how the multiplet proportion of total seismicity is very variable (ranging from 10 up to 90% of total seismicity), depending on the volcano in question, as well as on the time interval and volcanic activity. Buurman and West (2010), investigating volcano seismicity preceding and accompanying the 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano, found that the vast majority of earthquakes during this eruption have unique waveforms. Buurman et al. (2012), presenting an overview of the seismic activity associated with the 2009 eruption of Redoubt Volcano, found that most of the

analyzed seismic swarms are mainly made up of repeating events clustered in a few families. The percentage we found in this work suggests that a signicant portion of the Mt. Etna seismicity is spatially clustered and mainly affects a limited number of structures. The analysis of lifetime, Tr and number of VTs of all the detected families shows that most of them can be considered burst-type, namely they take place in a short time interval (more than half of the families have a lifetime shorter than 0.5 day), and contain a small number of events (over 70% of the families are made up of 2 or 3 events) (Fig. 5ac). As stated by Schaff and Richards (2011), the occurrence of burst-type families cannot be explained by a temporally constant tectonic loading. Indeed, since the analyzed earthquakes take place in a volcanic area, the rocks are affected not only by tectonic stresses related to fairly steady regional stress elds but also by local stresses, caused by the volcano, such as magma batch intrusions/movements and gravitational loading (e.g. Patan et al., 2004; McNutt, 2005). These local stresses, that at volcanoes can be abruptly variable not only over time but also over space, can trigger seismicity by different mechanisms such as static stress transfer (e.g. Gresta et al., 2005). Moreover, other phenomena related to uid circulation can promote rock fracturing in a volcanic area such as: i) an increase of pore pressure, thereby reducing the effective stress; ii) alteration of rock to secondary minerals, including clays, thus reducing the shear stress required to initiate fracturing; and iii) local gradients of temperature in the rocks, due to hot uids, and then thermal forces (e.g. Moran et al., 2000; Cannata et al., 2012). All these factors can account for the very high number of burst-type families at Mt. Etna. The fact that most of the earthquakes are not caused by the steady regional stress eld but by different factors that can be very variable over time, reects on the aperiodic behavior of most families, testied by the mainly high COV calculated on Tr values (Fig. 5d). Indeed, COV values larger than 1, suggesting temporal clustering, are expected because in the volcanic areas seismic energy is mainly released in VT swarms rather than in tectonic mainshockaftershock sequences (e.g. McNutt, 2005). In light of this, the loading rate of the structures generating the VT earthquakes at Mt. Etna can be considered a temporally variable parameter. VT families showed a much lower variability in size, as testied by the low COV values calculated on magnitude (generally b 0.5; Fig. 5e). This is partly due to the small size variability of VT earthquakes at Mt. Etna, where M > 3.0 earthquakes are very rare (Fig. 2b). The relative difference between COV values calculated on size and recurrence time was also observed by Li et al. (2011) analyzing repeating microearthquakes occurring along the Longmen Shan fault zone. On the other hand, ~ 10% of the families, characterized by a lifetime longer than 1 year, can be considered nonburst-type. Sixteen families belonging to this ~ 10% are characterized by a number of events higher than 6. Based on their location, these families were grouped into 5 groups related to the activity of seismogenic systems located in the southern, eastern and north-eastern anks of the volcano (Fig. 7). In particular, groups iii and v are likely related to well-known structural alignments recognizable at the surface, Timpe and Pernicana Fault Systems, respectively (Figs. 1 and 7). The other three groups are not associated to any fault visible at the surface. Moreover, families belonging to groups iiv show swarm-like occurrences, that, as aforementioned, are typical of volcanic areas. Unlike the groups iiv, group v shows a more tectonic behavior. Indeed, with the exception of the rst event of family 1 (taking place in 1999), the other events of this group were observed for the rst time in 20022003, and from then they were spread over almost the entire remaining analyzed period, with no evident swarm-like

Fig. 10. Stacking, time distribution and location of VT earthquake families time-related to each other. In particular, all the families shown in (a) and (b) are time-related to each other,while only the families plotted with the same color in (c) are time-related to each other.

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behavior. Assuming that a repeating earthquake sequence is caused by the repeated ruptures of small asperities surrounded by stably sliding areas and following the approach of Nadeau and Johnson (1998), the slips related to the VT families of group v were calculated. It is clear how both occurrence and slip rates do not remain constant but vary over time. Indeed, after an initial phase of high occurrence and slip rates, coinciding and following the Mt. Etna 20022003 eruption, these parameters decreased. In particular, the slip rate changed from 46 11 cm/year (calculated in the interval 1 July 20021 July 2003) to 11 3 cm/year (in the interval 1 July 20031 July 2009). Further, after the initial phase 4 families were characterized by a quasi-periodic behavior with a COV calculated on the Tr values lower than 0.4. Variations in time of repeating earthquakes Tr and/or related slip rate have sometimes been described in literature and have generally been attributed to the occurrence of strong earthquakes nearby the repeating earthquake sources (e.g. Peng and Ben-Zion, 2006; Templeton et al., 2008; Chen et al., 2009; Lengline and Marsan, 2009; Chen et al., 2010). For instance, Lengline and Marsan (2009) interpreted the variations observed in Tr of repeating earthquakes, taking place along a ~ 75 km portion of San Andreas Fault after the M = 6.0 Parkeld earthquake, as resulting from the coseismic stress eld. Chen et al. (2010) observed that Tr of repeating earthquakes subsequent to nearby M = 4.05.0 earthquakes reduced, and suggested that dynamic triggering, static triggering or transient increase of the creep rate can be responsible for this variation. In our case, the Tr/slip rate changes of the group v are closely time-related to the Mt. Etna 20022003 eruption. To interpret such a link between eruptive and seismic activities, it is necessary to take into account the seismogenic system generating the earthquakes making up group v, namely the Pernicana Fault System. This left-lateral strike slip structure trending EW is considered one of the most active faults in the Etnean area and plays a very important role in the dynamics of the eastern ank, which is affected by a continuous seaward sliding (e.g. Neri et al., 2004; Palano et al., 2006). The movement along such a fault system creates the space and the decompression for the magma rise along the NE Rift, as well as accommodating the opening of the NE Rift and the eastward sliding of the eastern portion of the volcano (e.g. Acocella and Neri, 2005). Thus, the acceleration in slip along the Pernicana Fault System, observed by repeating earthquakes occurrence and slip rate and also conrmed by other seismological and ground deformation studies (e.g., Palano et al., 2006; Alparone et al., in press), was due to the intrusion leading to 20022003 eruption. Unlike the 20022003 eruption, the 20042005, 2006 and 20082009 eruptions did not involve such an intense ank dynamics and then did not affect recurrence and slip rate of the analyzed Pernicana VT earthquake families. The differences in the slip rate of the 7 families of group v (Fig. 9) may simply be due to the fact that such VTs are caused by the movement not along a single fault plane, but rather along a fault system. Thus, for instance the slip of a certain family, representing the movement of the entire fault system, can be accommodated by the slip of more than a family in another fault system portion. Another interesting observation, regarding the Pernicana VT earthquake families belonging to the group v, is that all the families, with the exception of an event belonging to family 1, were observed for the rst time in 2002. Such an almost complete lack of events before 2002 could be due to either the incomplete earthquake catalog during the rst part of the analyzed period or to the very slow slip rate before the 20022003 eruption. The latter hypothesis is preferred for the following reasons. Firstly, as suggested by GPS measurements, before the 20022003 eruption the slip rate along the Pernicana Fault System ranged between 2 and 3 cm/year (Palano et al., 2006). Then, on the basis of such slip rate, a M = 2.0 earthquake (M0 and slip equal to 4 1019 dyn cm and 9 cm, respectively; Patan et al., 1993; Nadeau and Johnson, 1998) accommodates the slip accumulated in about 43 years, making the lack of events in a 3 year long interval plausible. Secondly, the unique event preceding 2002 belongs to the family 1,

which is characterized by the highest both average slip rate and occurrence rate. Finally, even family 207, characterized by average magnitude equal to 3.1 (much higher than the completeness threshold equal to 2.0 during 19891999 and 1.5 during 19992009; Alparone et al., 2010), does not contain earthquakes preceding 2002. Therefore, the almost complete lack of Pernicana VT families during 19992002 and their following activity at least up to the end of 2009, highlight the importance and long duration of the eastern ank instability phase that began with the 20022003 eruption. As also observed in Parkeld area by Chen et al. (2013), we found VT earthquake families time-related to each other. In most cases, these families at Mt. Etna are close to each other (some VT earthquake families located along the Pernicana Fault System have this behavior) and hence a mechanism similar to the chain reaction model, presented by Matsuzawa et al. (2004), can be inferred to explain such an interaction. For instance, let us take into account two asperities located close to each other on the same fault plane, responsible for the generation of two VT earthquake families. The rupture of the rst asperity, causing the rst earthquake, generates its afterslip, thus loading to failure the nearby asperity, and then triggering the second earthquake. According to another recent study (Chen et al., 2013), the interaction among close-by repeating earthquake families can be caused by both static and dynamic stress transfers. Most of the time-related earthquakes show time delay shorter than 1 day, but only a handful shorter than a very few minutes. Thus, following Chen et al. (2013), in most of the considered cases static stress changes help explain such interaction among repeating earthquake families, while delayed dynamic stress triggering cannot be ruled out. However, also a different mechanism can be invoked. The VT earthquake pairs that are time-related to each other can be considered not only as linked by causeeffect relations, but alternatively as both effects of an external cause, possibly the dynamics of a volcano sector. Such second mechanism may also be responsible for the VT earthquake pairs that are time-related and distant to each other. In this case, the movement of a volcano sector, for example triggered by magma batch intrusion, can contemporaneously lead to the failure of different structures that are even distant to each other. For instance, taking into account the aforementioned VTs located at Pernicana fault, related to VTs located ~5 km east of the summit area (Fig. 10b), their relation could be due to the movement of the eastern ank of the volcano, whose portions are bounded by several structures located at relatively shallow depth in such a region (e.g. Neri et al., 2004). 4. Concluding remarks The repeating volcano-tectonic earthquakes, taking place during 19992009 at Mt. Etna volcano, were detected and studied. The following points summarize the main conclusions: i) We found 735 families that amount to 2479 VT earthquakes, representing ~ 38% of all the analyzed VT earthquakes. ii) Most of the detected families can be considered burst-type, and hence their origin cannot be explained by the fairly steady regional stress eld but rather by temporally variable local stresses, caused by the volcano, such as magma batch intrusions/ movements and gravitational loading. Such evidence empirically demonstrates the different behavior of the seismogenic structures in volcanic areas from those in tectonic areas. iii) The ve groups of VT families, characterized by the longest repeatability over time, were located in the southern, eastern and north-eastern anks of the volcano. While two of these were associated with well-known fault systems recognizable at the surface (Timpe and Pernicana Fault Systems), the others are not related to any known fault visible at the surface. iv) A group of VTs, made up of 7 families and located in the Pernicana area, shows a more tectonic behavior, namely the events in this

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group are spread over almost the entire analyzed period. Both occurrence and slip rates do not remain constant but vary over time, and such changes are time-related to the occurrence of the Mt. Etna 20022003 eruption. This is further evidence of the close relationship between VT earthquake occurrences and eruptive activities in volcanic areas. Acknowledgments Gruppo Analisi Dati Sismici of Istituto Nazionale di Geosica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio EtneoSezione di Catania, is kindly acknowledged for providing data, P and S phase picking and location information. Placido Montalto is thanked for his useful help in performing HypoDD locations. Ferruccio Ferrari and Salvatore Spampinato are acknowledged for the very fruitful discussion. We are also indebted to the technicians of the seismological staff for enabling the acquisition of seismic data. We are grateful to the Associate Editor and to the Reviewers for their useful suggestions that greatly improved the paper. We thank Stephen Conway for revising and improving the English text. References
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