Groundwater extraction could be the cause of the earthquake in Lorca

Groundwater extraction could be the cause of the earthquake in Lorca.                                              

Nature Geoscience, UK | E. M. Reuters | London, 2012.

The extraction of  groundwater for drinking was at least one cause of the earthquake last May in the Spanish town of Lorca which left nine people dead, according to experts in a paper published in Nature Geoscience.

Experts conclude that the loss of water by progressive underground extraction for domestic supply disrupted crustal fault. They claim that it was enough to cause a fracture in the rock, which in turn induced earthquake, which had a magnitude of 5.1 degrees and also caused more than 300 injuries and serious damage in the town of Murcia. Experts found that the pattern of fault movement is correlated with changes in the Earth’s crust caused by a drop of 250 meters of natural underground water level by extraction from the 60s.

This correlation implies that the terrain changes induced by human actions helped to cause the earthquake in Lorca and also influenced the extent of fault rupture, which determined the magnitude of the earthquake of May 11. We conclude that the data presented and the model results are consistent with a process of groundwater discharge to the cortex, providing a plausible explanation for the observed pattern of movement on the fault, the scientists wrote. This confirms that human activities can influence how and when earthquakes occur, they assert.

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