Articles | Volume 372
Proc. IAHS, 372, 291–296, 2015
Proc. IAHS, 372, 291–296, 2015

  12 Nov 2015

12 Nov 2015

Continuous monitoring of an earth fissure in Chino, California, USA – a management tool

M. C. Carpenter M. C. Carpenter
  • formerly at: U.S. Geological Survey, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Abstract. Continuous measurements of deformation have been made in Chino, California across an earth fissure and nearby unfissured soil since 2011 in two buried, horizontal, 150 mm pipes, 51 m long, which are connected by sealed boxes enclosing vertical posts at mostly 6 m intervals. Horizontal displacements and normal strain are measured in one line using nine end-to-end quartz tubes that are attached to posts and span fissured or unfissured soil. The free ends of the tubes are supported by slings and move relative to the attachment post of the next quartz tube. Linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) sensors measure the relative movements. Five biaxial tilt sensors were also attached to selected posts in that line. Relative vertical movement was measured at nine locations along the line in the second pipe using low-level differential pressure sensors. The second pipe is half full of water giving a free water surface along its length. Data are recorded on a Campbell CR10 using multiplexers.

The quartz-tube horizontal extensometers have exhibited more than 3 mm of predominantly elastic opening and closing in response to about 32 m of seasonal drawdown and recovery, respectively, in an observation well 0.8 km to the south. The nearest production well is 1.6 km to the west. The horizontal strain was 5.9 × 10−5 or 30 % of the lowest estimate of strain-at-failure for alluvium. Maximum relative vertical movement was 4.8 mm. Maximum tilt in the fissure zone was 0.09 arcdeg while tilt at a separate sensor 100 m to the east was 0.86 arcdeg, indicating a wider zone of deformation than is spanned by the instrumentation. High correlation of horizontal displacements during drawdown, and especially recovery, with change in effective stress supports differential compaction as the mechanism for earth-fissure movement.

The continuous measurements of horizontal strain coupled with water-level fluctuations and vertical borehole extensometry can provide a real-time adaptive management tool for restricting pumping if strain approaches the lower limit of strain-at-failure or a stress-strain curve deviates from the previous mostly elastic regimen.

Short summary
Instruments buried across an earth-fissure zone in Chino, California since 2011 show opening during pumping and closing during recovery of about 30% of the lowest estimate of the threshold for major fissure opening. Continuous measurements of horizontal strain, water-level fluctuations, and subsidence can provide a real-time management tool to restrict pumping if strain approaches the lower limit of strain-at-failure or a stress-strain curve deviates from the previous mostly elastic regimen.