Water-table and discharge changes associated with the 2016–2017 seismic sequence in central Italy: hydrogeological data and a conceptual model for fractured carbonate aquifers.
Marco Petitta, Lucia Mastrorillo, Elisabetta Preziosi, Francesca Banzato, Marino Domenico Barberio, Andrea Billi, Costanza Cambi, Gaetano De Luca, Giuseppe Di Carlo, Diego Di Curzio, Cristina Di Salvo, Torquato Nanni, Stefano Palpacelli, Sergio Rusi, Michele Saroli, Marco Tallini, Alberto Tazioli, Daniela Valigi, Paola Vivalda, Carlo Doglioni.
Hydrogeology Journal, 2018

Abstract

A seismic sequence in central Italy from August 2016 to January 2017 affected groundwater dynamics in fractured carbonate aquifers. Changes in spring discharge, water-table position, and streamflow were recorded for several months following nine Mw 5.0–6.5 seismic events. Data from 22 measurement sites, located within 100 km of the epicentral zones, were analyzed. The intensity of the induced changes were correlated with seismic magnitude and distance to epicenters. The additional post-seismic discharge from rivers and springs was found to be higher than 9 m3/s, totaling more than 0.1 km3 of groundwater release over 6 months. This huge and unexpected contribution increased streamflow in narrow mountainous valleys to previously unmeasured peak values. Analogously to the L’Aquila 2009 postearthquake phenomenon, these hydrogeological changes might reflect an increase of bulk hydraulic conductivity at the aquifer scale, which would increase hydraulic heads in the discharge zones and lower them in some recharge areas. The observed changes may also be partly due to other mechanisms, such as shaking and/or squeezing effects related to intense subsidence in the core of the affected area, where effects had maximum extent, or breaching of hydraulic barriers.

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