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Seismic Interferometry: 4D Monitoring of Groundwater Fluctuations and Beyond

Date(s): March 16, 2023, 2-3pm Eastern
Location: Virtual

Speaker: Dr. Shujuan Mao (Stanford)

Abstract: Historic levels of drought, globally, call for sustainable freshwater management. Under pressing demand is a refined understanding of the structures and dynamics of groundwater systems. In this seminar I will present an unconventional, cost-effective approach to aquifer monitoring using seismograph arrays. Employing advanced seismic interferometry techniques, we calculate the space-time evolution of seismic velocity changes, as a measure of hydrological properties. During 2000–2020 in basins near Los Angeles, seismic velocity variations match groundwater tables measured in wells and surface deformations inferred from satellite sensing, but the seismological approach adds temporal and depth resolutions for deep structures and processes. Maps of long-term seismic velocity changes reveal distinct patterns (decline or recovery) of groundwater storage in basins that are adjacent but adjudicated to water districts conducting different pumping practices. This pilot application bridges the gap between seismology and hydrology, and shows the promise of leveraging seismometers worldwide to provide 4D (space-time) characterizations of groundwater. I will also demonstrate the potential of utilizing the passive seismic interferometry for monitoring other near-surface systems.