Large earthquakes are known to cause widespread changes in groundwater flow, yet their relation to subsurface transport is unknown. Here we report systematic changes in groundwater temperature after the 1999 Mw7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake in central Taiwan, documented by a dense network of monitoring wells over a large (17,000 km2) alluvial fan near the epicenter. Analysis of the data reveals a hitherto unknown system of earthquake-triggered basin-wide groundwater flow, which scavenges geothermal heat from depths, changing groundwater temperature across the basin. The newly identified earthquake-triggered groundwater flow may have significant implications on postseismic groundwater supply and quality, contaminant transport, underground repository safety, and hydrocarbon production.
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