Bakaninbreen is a polythermal glacier in southern Spitsbergen, Svalbard, which surged between 1985 and 1995. For 9 days in spring 1987, when the surge front was travelling at ∼2.5-3.0 m d–1, three single-component geophones and two accelerometers were deployed in a T-shaped array immediately downstream of the surge front to record seismic emissions. The events were characterized by their waveforms and spectral content. At least three different categories have been identified: impulsive P- and S-waveforms, surface P- and S-wave trains, and harmonic (75-130 Hz) events. We interpret the impulsive events to originate at the base of the glacier, at or downstream of the surge front; the surface P- and S-wave trains from near-surface brittle fracture associated with the surface expression of the surge front itself; and the harmonic events from deep sources that involve resonance in a water-filled fracture, associated with the base of the surge front. We believe the basal events are related to the activation of stagnant ice downstream of the surge front, which allows water to access the bed and provides the mechanism for its propagation.