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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-360
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Aug 2018

Research article | 07 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Hydrogeological responses to the 2016 Gyeongju earthquakes, Korea

Jaeyeon Kim1, Jungjin Lee1, Marco Petitta2, Heejung Kim1, Dugin Kaown1, In-Woo Park1, Sanghoon Lee1, and Kang-Kun Lee1 Jaeyeon Kim et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, P. le A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy

Abstract. The September 12, 2016 Gyeongju earthquakes (M5.1 and M5.8) had significant effects on groundwater systems along the Yangsan Fault System composed of NNE-trending, right-lateral strike-slip faults in Korea. Hydrological changes induced by the earthquakes are important because no surface ruptures have been reported and few earthquakes usually occur in Korea. The main objective of this research was to propose a conceptual model interpreting the possible mechanisms of groundwater response to the earthquakes based on anomalous hydrogeochemical data including isotope (radon, strontium) concentrations with bedrock characteristics. To analyze the hydraulic changes resulting from the earthquakes, annual monitoring data of groundwater level, temperature, and electrical conductivity and collected data of hydrochemical parameters, radon-222, and strontium isotopes were collected during January 2017. Groundwater level anomalies could be attributed to the movement of the epicentral strike-slip fault. Radon concentration data showed the potential of groundwater mixing processes. Strontium anomalies could be related to the lithology and stratigraphy of the bedrock, reflecting the effect of water–rock interaction. Using a Self-Organizing Map (SOM) statistical analysis, associations of hydro-geochemical characteristics among groundwater wells were interpreted. By combining the grouped results of the SOM with lithostratigraphic unit data, 21 groundwater wells were classified into four groups, each corresponding to different hydrogeological behaviors. A new comprehensive conceptual model was developed to explain possible mechanisms for the hydrological and geochemical responses in each group, which have been respectively identified as water–rock interaction, mixing of shallow and deep aquifers via sea water intrusion, bedrock fracture opening related to strike-slip fault movement, and no response.

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Short summary
This study analyzed groundwater responses to the earthquake in Korea strongest ever since the instrumental observation begun in 1978. Through a statistical similarity analysis, groundwater chemical and physical responses of observation wells were grouped into 4 patterns. The difference between patterns were explained by appropriate mechanisms. The results indicated a possibility that subsurface conditions related with the earthquake can be characterized by groundwater observations.
This study analyzed groundwater responses to the earthquake in Korea strongest ever since the...
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