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Transient deformation of karst aquifers due to seasonal and multiyear groundwater variations observed by GPS in southern Apennines (Italy)

Abstract : We present GPS, hydrological, and GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) observations in southern Apennines (Italy) pointing to a previously unnoticed response of the solid Earth to hydrological processes. Transient patterns in GPS horizontal time series near to large karst aquifers are controlled by seasonal and interannual phases of groundwater recharge/discharge of karst aquifers, modulating the extensional similar to 3 mm/yr strain within the tectonically active Apennines. We suggest that transient signals are produced, below the saturation level of the aquifers and above a poorly constrained depth in the shallow crust, by time-dependent opening of subvertical, fluid-filled, conductive fractures. We ascribe this process to the immature karstification and intense tectonic fracturing, favoring slow groundwater circulation, and to multiyear variations of the water table elevation, influenced by variable seasonal recharge. The vertical component displays seasonal and multiyear signals more homogeneously distributed in space and closely correlated with estimates of total water storage from GRACE, reflecting the elastic response of the lithosphere to variations of surface water loads. The different sensitivities of vertical and horizontal components to the hydrologically induced deformation processes allow us to spatially and temporally resolve the different phases of the water cycle, from maximum hydrological loading at the surface to maximum hydrostatic pressure beneath karst aquifers. Finally, we suggest that transient deformation signals in the geodetic series of the Apennines are correlated to large-scale climatic patterns (Northern Atlantic Oscillation) through their influence on precipitation variability and trends at the regional scale.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 4:47:30 PM
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Francesca Silverii, Nicola d'Agostino, Marianne Metois, Francesco Fiorillo, Gerardo Ventafridda. Transient deformation of karst aquifers due to seasonal and multiyear groundwater variations observed by GPS in southern Apennines (Italy). Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2016, 121 (11), pp.8315-8337. ⟨10.1002/2016JB013361⟩. ⟨hal-02331138⟩

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