Seismic detection of underwater volcanism: The example of French Polynesia

Jacques Talandier*, Emile A. Okal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We present a review of the principal methods used for the seismic detection and identification of active underwater volcanism, based on our experience in French Polynesia. In particular, we descrobe the 5-year activity in the Tahiti-Mehetia area, during which more than 32000 earthquakes were detected by the Polynesian network. We discuss the use of the following three types of seismic waves: conventional (mostly body waves), seismic tremor, and T waves propagated in the low-velocity acoustic channel of the ocean. For each of these waves, we discuss the principal characteristics of the signals, their spectral content, the type of information they provide on the activity of the volcano, and the various limitations faced by their use in detection or monitoring of underwater volcanic edifices. We present a review of the principal swarms monitored by the Polynesian network, and discuss their characterization as either volcanic or tectonic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-950
Number of pages32
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics PAGEOPH
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987


  • Pacific Ocean basin
  • T waves
  • Volcanic seismicity
  • tremor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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