Articles | Volume 372
Proc. IAHS, 372, 285–290, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/piahs-372-285-2015
Proc. IAHS, 372, 285–290, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/piahs-372-285-2015

  12 Nov 2015

12 Nov 2015

Physical experiments of land subsidence within a maar crater: insights for porosity variations and fracture localization

M. Cerca1, L. Rocha2, D. Carreón-Freyre1, and J. Aranda1 M. Cerca et al.
  • 1Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Juriquilla, Querétaro, Qro., 76230, México
  • 2Posgrado en Ciencias de la Tierra, Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Juriquilla, Querétaro, Qro., 76230, México

Abstract. We present the results of a series of physical models aiming to reproduce rapid subsidence (at least 25 m in 30 years) observed in the sediments of a maar crater caused by extraction of groundwater in the interconnected adjacent aquifer. The model considered plausible variations in the geometry of the crater basement and the measured rate of groundwater extraction (1 m per year in the time interval from 2005 to 2011) in 15 wells located around the structure. The experiments were built within a rigid plastic bowl in which the sediments and rocks of the maar sequence were modeled using different materials: (a) plasticine for the rigid country rock, (b) gravel for the fractured country rock forming the diatreme fill and, (c) water saturated hollow glass microbeads for the lacustrine sedimentary fill of the crater. Water table was maintained initially at the surface of the sediments and then was allowed to flow through a hole made at the base of the rigid bowl. Water extraction provoked a sequence of gentle deformation, fracturing, and faulting of the surface in all the experiments. Vertical as well as lateral displacements were observed in the surface of the experiments. We discuss the results of 2 representative models. The model results reproduced the main geometry of the ring faults affecting the crater sediments and helps to explain the diversity of structures observed in relation with the diatreme geometry. The surface of the models was monitored continuously with an optical interferometric technique called structured light projection. Images collected at nearly constant time intervals were analyzed using the ZEBRA software and the obtained interferometric pairs permitted to analyze the full field subsidence in the model (submilimetric vertical displacements). The experiments were conducted at a continuous flow rate extraction and show a also a linear subsidence rate. Comparison among the results of the physical models and the fault system associated to subsidence in the maar show that fault geometry in the sedimentary sequence imitates closely the geometry of the volcanic basement.

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Short summary
We present a series of physical experiments that examine with detail the evolution of subsidence in a volcanic maar crater, located in central Mexico. The crater is thought to be connected to the adjacent aquifer, which has been extensively exploited during the last 35 years. Subsidence in the sediments filling the crater show deformation manifested as ring faults and fractures. The results may be relevant to understand the evolution of subsidence in similar volcanic settings elsewhere.