Earthquake-induced hydrogeological changes in New Zealand
Earthquakes redistribute fluids and change associated flow paths in the subsurface. Earthquake hydrology is an evolving discipline that studies such phenomena, providing novel information on crustal processes, natural hazards and water resources. This thesis uses the internationally significant New Zealand "hydroseismicity" dataset, in a regional-scale multi-site multi-earthquake study which includes the occurrence and the absence of responses, spanning a decade. Earthquake-induced groundwater level and tidal behaviour changes were examined in a range of aquifers, rock types and hydrogeological settings. Monitoring wells were within one (near-field) to several (intermediate- field) ruptured fault lengths of a variety of earthquakes that had a range of shaking intensities. This thesis presents three studies on the seismic and hydrogeological controls on earthquake-induced groundwater level changes. Water level changes were recorded New Zealand-wide within compositionally diverse, young shallow aquifers, in 433 monitoring wells at distances between 4 and 850 km from the 2016 Mw 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake epicentre. Water level changes are inconsistent with static stress changes, but do correlate with peak ground acceleration (PGA). At PGAs exceeding ~2 m/s2, water level changes predominantly increased persistently, which may have resulted from shear-induced consolidation. At lower PGAs there were approximately equal numbers of persistent water level increases and decreases, which are thought to have resulted from permeability enhancement. Water level changes also occurred more frequently north of the epicentre, due to the northward directivity of the Kaikoura earthquake rupture. Local hydrogeological conditions also contributed to the observed responses, with larger water level changes occurring in deeper wells and in well-consolidated rocks at equivalent PGA levels. Earthquakes have previously been inferred to induce hydrological changes in aquifers on the basis of changes to well tidal behaviour and water level, but the relationship between these changes have been unclear. Earthquake-induced changes to tidal behaviour and groundwater levels were quantified in 161 monitoring wells screened in gravel aquifers in Canterbury, New Zealand. In the near-field of the Canterbury earthquake sequence of 2010 and 2011, permeability reduction detected by tidal behaviour changes and increased water levels supports the hypothesis of shear-induced consolidation. Water level changes that occurred with no change in tidal behaviour re-equilibrated at a new post-seismic level within ~50 minutes possibly due to high permeability, good well-aquifer coupling, and/or small permeability changes in the local aquifer. Water level changes that occurred with tidal behaviour changes took from ~240 minutes to ~10 days to re-equilibrate, thought to represent permeability changes on a larger scale. Recent studies commonly utilise a general metric for earthquake-induced hydrological responses based on epicentral distance, earthquake magnitude and seismic energy density. A logistic regression model with random effects was applied to a dataset of binary responses of 495 monitoring well water levels to 11 Mw 5.4 or larger earthquakes. Within the model, earthquake shaking (represented by peak ground velocity), degree of confinement (depth) and rock strength (site average shear wave velocity in the shallow subsurface) were incorporated. For practical applications, the probabilistic framework was converted into the Modified Mercalli (MM) intensity scale. The model shows that water level changes are unlikely below MM intensity VI. At an MM intensity VII, water level changes are about as likely as not to very likely. At MM intensity VIII, the likelihood rises to very likely to virtually certain. This study was the first attempt we are aware of worldwide at incorporating both seismic and hydrogeological factors into a probabilistic framework for earthquake-induced groundwater level changes. The framework is a novel and more universal approach in quantifying responses than previous metrics using epicentral distance, magnitude and seismic energy density. It has potential to enable better comparison of international studies and inform practitioners making decisions around investment to mitigate risk to, and to increase the resilience of, water supply infrastructure.