Drainage of a deep magma reservoir near Mayotte inferred from seismicity and deformation

Simone Cesca, Jean Letort, Hoby Razafindrakoto, Sebastian Heimann, Eleonora Rivalta, Marius P. Isken, Mehdi Nikkhoo, Luigi Passarelli, Gesa M. Petersen, Fabrice Cotton, Torsten Dahm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The dynamics of magma deep in the Earth’s crust are difficult to capture by geophysical monitoring. Since May 2018, a seismically quiet area offshore of Mayotte in the western Indian Ocean has been affected by complex seismic activity, including long-duration, very-long-period signals detected globally. Global Navigation Satellite System stations on Mayotte have also recorded a large surface deflation offshore. Here we analyse regional and global seismic and deformation data to provide a one-year-long detailed picture of a deep, rare magmatic process. We identify about 7,000 volcano-tectonic earthquakes and 407 very-long-period seismic signals. Early earthquakes migrated upward in response to a magmatic dyke propagating from Moho depth to the surface, whereas later events marked the progressive failure of the roof of a magma reservoir, triggering its resonance. An analysis of the very-long-period seismicity and deformation suggests that at least 1.3 km3 of magma drained from a reservoir of 10 to 15 km diameter at 25 to 35 km depth. We demonstrate that such deep offshore magmatic activity can be captured without any on-site monitoring.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-93
Number of pages7
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2020


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