Aquifer deformation and active faulting in Salt Lake Valley, Utah, USA

Hu, X., and R. Burgmann (2020), Aquifer deformation and active faulting in Salt Lake Valley, Utah, USA, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 547, 116471, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116471.

Aquifers and fault zones may interact through groundwater flow and stress redistribution, yet their spatiotemporal relationship remains enigmatic. Here we quantify changes in water storage and associated stress along the Wasatch Fault Zone in Salt Lake Valley, recently shaken by a M5.7 earthquake on March 18th, 2020. Ground deformation mapped by Sentinel-1 SAR imagery (2014-2019) reveals an elongated area with ∼50-mm seasonal uplift corresponding to 0.03-0.06-km3 water storage cycles. Phase shifts across active faults in both water level and deformation suggest control by the low-permeability structures. The seasonal stress changes on the adjoining faults from poroelastic volume strain are two orders of magnitude larger than those from hydrological surface loading, but both are small compared to the annual increase of tectonic loading at seismogenic depths. Historic seismic events, limited in number, do not exhibit statistically significant annual periodicity and hydrological modulation of microseismicity or triggering of the recent M5.7 event is not evident.

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Earth Surface & Interior Program (ESI)