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Long-period (LP, 0.5-5 Hz) seismicity, observed at volcanoes worldwide, is a recognized signature of unrest and eruption. Cyclic LP “drumbeating” was the characteristic seismicity accompanying the sustained dome-building phase of the 2004–2008 eruption of Mount St. Helens (MSH), WA. However, together with the LP drumbeating was a near-continuous, randomly occurring series of tiny LP seismic events (LP “subevents”), which may hold important additional information on the mechanism of seismogenesis at restless volcanoes. We employ template matching, phase-weighted stacking, and full-waveform inversion to image the source mechanism of one multiplet of these LP subevents at MSH in July 2005. The signal-to-noise ratios of the individual events are too low to produce reliable waveform inversion results, but the events are repetitive and can be stacked. We apply network-based template matching to 8 days of continuous velocity waveform data from 29 June to 7 July 2005 using a master event to detect 822 network triggers. We stack waveforms for 359 high-quality triggers at each station and component, using a combination of linear and phase-weighted stacking to produce clean stacks for use in waveform inversion. The derived source mechanism points to the volumetric oscillation (∼10 m3) of a subhorizontal crack located at shallow depth (∼30 m) in an area to the south of Crater Glacier in the southern portion of the breached MSH crater. A possible excitation mechanism is the sudden condensation of metastable steam from a shallow pressurized hydrothermal system as it encounters cool meteoric water in the outer parts of the edifice, perhaps supplied from snow melt.

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This document was originally published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth by Wiley on behalf of the American Geophysical Union. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1002/2015JB012279.