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Groundwater responses to the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake on Jeju Island, Korea


Correspondence to: Kyoochul Ha, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources–Geologic Environment, 124 Gwahang-no Yuseong-gu Daejeon, Daejeon 305–350, Korea.



Groundwater responses at 15 monitoring wells on Jeju Island were observed in relation to the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku Earthquake off the Pacific coast of Honshu, Japan, on 11 March 2011, at 14:46:23 h local time (05:46:24 h UTC time). In coastal areas, the groundwater level responses to the earthquake were oscillatory at 12 wells, and the range of the maximum groundwater level changes was 3–192.4 cm. The response durations were approximately 1–62 min. The relationship between the maximum groundwater level changes and the response durations displayed a high correlation coefficient (r = 0.81). Groundwater temperature changes were also observed at 7 of 12 wells 3–10 min after the seismic wave arrived, and the range was from 0.01 °C to 1.20 °C. In mid-elevation areas, the groundwater level changes appeared in three different forms: oscillatory, spiky and persistent. The groundwater temperature changes were also observed at two wells. One indicated decreasing and recovering temperatures, and the other exhibited rising and persistent temperatures. The primary temperature changes occurred 5–6 min after the earthquake and 2–3 min after the seismic wave arrived. In addition, the electrical conductivities at the depth of the transition zone were monitored, and the responses to the earthquake appeared at all three wells. Although the electrical conductivity and temperature changes were not well understood, groundwater inflow and mixing were likely caused by the earthquake, and the responses were various and site specific. The responses to the earthquake were closely related to the hydrogeological characteristics at each monitoring well, and a more detailed hydrogeological characterization is needed to understand the mechanisms related to earthquakes in general. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.