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07.12.2019 | Paper | Ausgabe 2/2020 Open Access

Hydrogeology Journal 2/2020

Extensometer forensics: what can the data really tell us?

Hydrogeology Journal > Ausgabe 2/2020
Thomas J. Burbey


Extensometer data have an advantage over satellite-based data for monitoring land subsidence in that extensometer data provide continuous measurements (hourly or better temporal resolution) at very high precision (several tens of microns) over a known depth interval; the latter is important for isolating groundwater pumping from other causes of land subsidence attributed to tectonics or eustatic adjustments in the Earth’s crust. This investigation aims to identify a semi-analytical procedure for quantifying aquifer and aquitard properties from a single extensometer record in lieu of the time-consuming development of more complex numerical models to quantify and constrain these parameter values. In spite of a limited 12-year record and the fact that water levels both decline and increase on an annual basis, this study successfully and reasonably estimated both aquifer and aquitard parameters at the Lorenzi extensometer site in Las Vegas Valley, Nevada (USA), when compared to the estimates developed numerically. The key factors that allow for estimates of elastic and inelastic skeletal-specific storage and hydraulic conductivity of the aquitards and elastic specific storage and hydraulic conductivity of the intervening aquifers is the presence of pumping cycles at multiple frequencies, and measured heads at all the aquifer units covered in the extensometer record. There is an inherent assumption that the aquitards possess the same hydrologic characteristics and are homogeneous and isotropic. This assumption is also a usual limitation in numerical modeling of these settings because of the complex temporal head relationships occurring within the aquitards that are rarely, if ever, measured.

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