Aquifers host the largest accessible freshwater resource in the world. However, groundwater reserves are declining in many places. Often coincident with drought, high extraction rates and inadequate replenishment result in groundwater overdraft and permanent land subsidence. Land subsidence is the cause of aquifer storage capacity reduction, altered topographic gradients which can exacerbate floods, and differential displacement that can lead to earth fissures and infrastructure damage. Improving understanding of the sources and mechanisms driving aquifer deformation is important for resource management planning and hazard mitigation.
Poroelastic theory describes the coupling of differential stress, strain, and pore pressure, which are modulated by material properties. To model these relationships, displacement time series are estimated via satellite interferometry and hydraulic head levels from observation wells provide an in-situ dataset. In combination, the deconstruction and isolation of selected time-frequency components allow for estimating aquifer parameters, including the elastic and inelastic storage coefficients, compaction time constants, and vertical hydraulic conductivity. Together these parameters describe the storage response of an aquifer system to changes in hydraulic head and surface elevation. Understanding aquifer parameters is useful for the ongoing management of groundwater resources.
Case studies in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, focus on land subsidence from groundwater withdrawal as well as distinct responses to artificial recharge efforts. In Christchurch, New Zealand, possible changes to aquifer properties due to earthquakes are investigated. In Houston, Texas, flood severity during Hurricane Harvey is linked to subsidence, which modifies base flood elevations and topographic gradients.