The Influence of Geologic Structures on Deformation due to Ground Water Withdrawal



A 62 day controlled aquifer test was conducted in thick alluvial deposits at Mesquite, Nevada, for the purpose of monitoring horizontal and vertical surface deformations using a high-precision global positioning system (GPS) network. Initial analysis of the data indicated an anisotropic aquifer system on the basis of the observed radial and tangential deformations. However, new InSAR data seem to indicate that the site may be bounded by an oblique normal fault as the subsidence bowl is both truncated to the northwest and offset from the pumping well to the south. A finite-element numerical model was developed using ABAQUS to evaluate the potential location and hydromechanical properties of the fault based on the observed horizontal deformations. Simulation results indicate that for the magnitude and direction of motion at the pumping well and at other GPS stations, which is toward the southeast (away from the inferred fault), the fault zone (5 m wide) must possess a very high permeability and storage coefficient and cross the study area in a northeast-southwest direction. Simulated horizontal and vertical displacements that include the fault zone closely match observed displacements and indicate the likelihood of the presence of the inferred fault. This analysis shows how monitoring horizontal displacements can provide valuable information about faults, and boundary conditions in general, in evaluating aquifer systems during an aquifer test.