Lorca earthquake ’caused by groundwater extraction’

Police officer inspects earthquake damage

Scientists studying the fault beneath the Spanish city of Lorca say that groundwater removal may be implicated in a deadly 2011 earthquake there.

Detailed surface maps from satellite studies allowed them to infer which parts of the ground moved where.

They report in Nature Geoscience that those shifts correlate with locations where water has been drained for years.

The study highlights how human activity such as drainage or borehole drilling can have far-reaching seismic effects.

Pablo Gonzalez of the University of Western Ontario and colleagues used satellite radar data to trace the ground movements of the Lorca event back to their source, finding that the earthquake resulted from slippage on a comparatively shallow fault that borders a large water basin south of the city.

That the slippage happened at a depth of just 3km explains why the fairly mild Magnitude 5.1 quake caused so much damage in the area.


BBC has the full article

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