Earthquake Hydrology: Seismic Pumps or Broken Pipes?

Part of the GNS-led Marsden project: 12-GNS-003.

The M7.1 (2010) and M6.2 (2011) Canterbury and M7.8 (2009) Fiordland earthquakes resulted in proximal liquefaction and groundwater changes throughout New Zealand, as far afield as Northland, that were recorded by hydrological and seismological monitoring networks with unsurpassed spatial and temporal resolution. We aim to understand the driving mechanism(s) of fluid movement during these major, very different, recent South Island earthquakes. In the first systematic investigation of earthquake hydrology in New Zealand, we will examine and model rich datasets of water level-, aquifer- and flow-changes induced by shaking, stress and strain. We aim to elucidate spatial distributions of dynamic stress (‘seismic pump’) vs static stress (‘broken pipe’) causal mechanisms, to deliver internationally important examples of crustal hydromechanics from New Zealand, relevant locally for  understanding liquefaction, informed engineering, and security of water supply.

Contact person: Helen Rutter

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