Estimating the extent of stress influence by using earthquake triggering groundwater level variations in Taiwan

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Groundwater level variations associated with earthquake events may reveal useful information. This study estimates the extent of stress influence, defined as the distance over which an earthquake can induce a step change of the groundwater level, using earthquake-triggering groundwater level variations in Taiwan. Groundwater variations were first characterized based on the dynamics of groundwater level changes dominantly triggered by earthquakes. The step-change data in co-seismic groundwater level variations were used to analyze the extent of stress influence for earthquakes. From the data analysis, the maximum extent of stress influence is 250. km around Taiwan. A two-dimensional approach was adopted to develop two models for estimating the maximum extent of stress influence for earthquakes. From the developed models, the extent of stress influence is proportional to the earthquake magnitude and inversely proportional to the groundwater level change. The model equations can be used to calculate the influence radius of stress from an earthquake by using the observed change of groundwater level and the earthquake magnitude. The models were applied to estimate the area of anomalous stress, defined as the possible areas where the strain energy is accumulated, using the cross areas method. The results show that the estimated area of anomalous stress is close to the epicenter. Complex geological structures and material heterogeneity and anisotropy may explain this disagreement. More data collection and model refinements can improve the proposed model. This study shows the potential of using groundwater level variations for capturing seismic information. The proposed concept of extent of stress influence can be used to estimate the earthquake effect in hydraulic engineering, mining engineering, and carbon dioxide sequestration, etc. This study provides a concept for estimating the possible areas of anomalous stress for a forthcoming earthquake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-383
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 23

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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