Widespread groundwater-level offsets caused by the Mw 5.8 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake of 23 August 2011
Published:January 01, 2015
Evelyn A. Roeloffs, David L. Nelms, Rodney A. Sheets, 2015. "Widespread groundwater-level offsets caused by the Mw 5.8 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake of 23 August 2011", The 2011 Mineral, Virginia, Earthquake, and Its Significance for Seismic Hazards in Eastern North America, J. Wright Horton, Jr., Martin C. Chapman, Russell A. Green
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Groundwater levels were offset in bedrock observation wells, measured by the U.S. Geological Survey or others, as far as 553 km from the Mw 5.8 Mineral, Virginia (USA), earthquake on 23 August 2011. Water levels dropped as much as 0.47 m in 34 wells and rose as much as 0.15 m in 12 others. In some wells, which are as much as 213 m deep, the water levels recovered from these deviations in hours to days, but in others the water-level offset may have persisted. The groundwater-level offsets occurred in locations where the earthquake was at least weakly felt, and the maximum water-level excursion increased with felt intensity, independent of epicentral distance. Coseismic static strain from the earthquake was too small and localized to have contributed significantly to the groundwater-level offsets. The relation with intensity is consistent with ground motion from seismic waves leading to the water-level offsets. Examination of the hydrographs indicates that short-period ground motion most likely affected the permeability of the bedrock aquifers monitored by the wells.