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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 06 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 06 Jun 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Seismic detection and tracking of avalanches and slush flows on Mt. Fuji, Japan

Cristina Pérez-Guillén1,a, Kae Tsunematsu2,b, Kouichi Nishimura1, and Dieter Issler3 Cristina Pérez-Guillén et al.
  • 1Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • 2Mount Fuji Research Institute, Yamanashi Prefectural Government, Fujiyoshidashi, Yamanashi, Japan
  • 3Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, Norway
  • apresent address: RISKNAT Natural Hazards Research Group, Geomodels Institute, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Department of Earth andOcean's Dynamics, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • bpresent address: Faculty of Science, Yamagata University, Yamagatashi, Yamagata, Japan

Abstract. Avalanches are often released at the dormant stratovolcano Mt. Fuji, which is the highest mountain of Japan (3776 m a.s.l.). These avalanches exhibit different flow types, from typical dry-snow avalanches in winter to slush flows triggered by heavy rainfall in late winter to early spring. Avalanches from different flanks represent a major natural hazard as they can reach large dimensions with run-out distances up to four kilometres, regularly destroy parts of the forest and sometimes damage infrastructure. For monitoring the volcanic activity of Mt. Fuji, a permanent and dense seismic network is installed around the volcano. The small distance between the seismic sensors and the volcano flank (< 10 km) allowed us to detect numerous avalanche events from the seismic recordings and locate them in time and space. We present the detailed analysis of three avalanche/slush flow periods in the winters of 2014, 2016 and 2018. The largest events (size class 4–5) are detected by the seismic network at maximum distances of about 15 km, medium-size events (size class 3–4) within a radius of 9 km. For localizing the seismic events, we used the automated approach of amplitude source location (ASL) based on the decay of the seismic amplitudes with distance from the moving flow. The recorded amplitudes at each station have to be corrected by the site amplification factors, which are estimated by the coda method using data from local earthquakes. Our results show the feasibility of tracking the flow path of avalanches and slush flows with considerable precision and thus, estimating information such as the approximate run-out distance and the average front speed of the flows, which are usually poorly known. To estimate the precision of the seismic tracking, we analyzed aerial photos of the release area and determined the flow path and run-out distance, estimated the release volume from the meteorological records and conducted numerical simulations with Titan2D to reconstruct the dynamics of the flow. The precision as a function of time is deduced from the comparison with the numerical simulations showing mean location errors in the range between 85 m and 271 m. The average front speeds estimated seismically, which ranged from 27.1 m s−1 to 50.6 m s−1 are consistent with the numerically predicted speeds. In addition, we deduced two scaling-relationships based on seismic parameters to quantify the size of the mass flow events. Our results are indispensable for assessing avalanche risk in the Mt. Fuji region as seismic records are often the only available dataset for this natural hazard. The approach presented here can be applied in the development of an early-detection and location system of avalanches based on seismic sensors.

Cristina Pérez-Guillén et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Cristina Pérez-Guillén et al.
Cristina Pérez-Guillén et al.
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Short summary
Avalanches and slush flows are often released at the stratovolcano of Mt. Fuji, Japan. These flows represent a major natural hazard as they can reach large dimensions, destroy parts of the forest and damage infrastructure. We detected and tracked these mass movements using seismic data combined with numerical simulations. We also inferred for the first time dynamical properties characterizing these flows. All this information is of a great of value for assessing avalanche risk on Mt. Fuji.
Avalanches and slush flows are often released at the stratovolcano of Mt. Fuji, Japan. These...