Seismic signature of active intrusions in mountain chains


Intrusions are a ubiquitous component of mountain chains and testify to the emplacement of magma at depth. Understanding the emplacement and growth mechanisms of intrusions, such as diapiric or dike-like ascent, is critical to constrain the evolution and structure of the crust. Petrological and geological data allow us to reconstruct magma pathways and long-term magma differentiation and assembly processes. However, our ability to detect and reconstruct the short-term dynamics related to active intrusive episodes in mountain chains is embryonic, lacking recognized geophysical signals. We analyze an anomalously deep seismic sequence (maximum magnitude 5) characterized by low-frequency bursts of earthquakes that occurred in 2013 in the Apennine chain in Italy. We provide seismic evidences of fluid involvement in the earthquake nucleation process and identify a thermal anomaly in aquifers where CO2 of magmatic origin dissolves. We show that the intrusion of dike-like bodies in mountain chains may trigger earthquakes with magnitudes that may be relevant to seismic hazard assessment. These findings provide a new perspective on the emplacement mechanisms of intrusive bodies and the interpretation of the seismicity in mountain chains.