Hydrology, Cryosphere & Earth Surface Editors' Highlights

Groundwater Drawn Downward After Kumamoto Quake

A unique set of high-frequency groundwater level monitoring reveals a loss of approximately ten million cubic meters of groundwater after a major earthquake.

Source: Water Resources Research


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Major earthquakes are known to affect surface water and groundwater systems; for instance, by altering spring locations, making streams disappear, or causing groundwater levels to drop temporarily or permanently. The study by Hosono et al. [2019] is unique because it provides a rare set of high frequency observations of groundwater and surface water levels before, during, and after a large earthquake.

These data reveal that a large volume of water has disappeared through crustal ruptures formed during the quake, as shown in the diagram above. Not only does this reduce water availability in the region for a whole year but it also causes surface water and shallow groundwater to mix with deeper groundwater with possible long-term negative consequences for groundwater quality.

Citation: Hosono, T., Yamada, C., Shibata, T., Tawara, Y., Wang, C.‐Y., Manga, M., et al. [2019]. Coseismic groundwater drawdown along crustal ruptures during the 2016 Mw 7.0 Kumamoto earthquake. Water Resources Research, 55. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019WR024871

—Marc F. P. Bierkens, Editor, Water Resources Research

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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