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Synchronized and asynchronous modulation of seismicity by hydrological loading: A case study in Taiwan



Delineation of physical factors that contribute to earthquake triggering is a challenging issue in seismology. We analyze hydrological modulation of seismicity in Taiwan using groundwater level data and GNSS time series. In western Taiwan, the seismicity rate reaches peak levels in February to April and drops to its lowest values in July to September, exhibiting a direct correlation with annual water unloading. The elastic hydrological load cycle may be the primary driving mechanism for the observed synchronized modulation of earthquakes, as also evidenced by deep earthquakes in eastern Taiwan. However, shallow earthquakes in eastern Taiwan (<18 km) are anticorrelated with water unloading, which is not well explained by either hydrological loading, fluid transport, or pore pressure changes and suggests other time-dependent processes. The moderate correlation between stacked monthly trends of large historic earthquakes and present-day seismicity implies a modestly higher seismic hazard during the time of low annual hydrological loading.

Full Article:

Hsu, Y. J. *, H. Kao, R. Bürgmann, Y. T. Lee, H. H. Huang, Y. F. Hsu, Y. M. Wu, and J. Zhuang, (2021), Synchronized and asynchronous modulation of seismicity by hydrological Loading: A case study in Taiwan, Science Advances 7(16), eabf7282, https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abf7282