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Hydrochemical response of groundwater following the 2020 Monte Cristo Range Earthquake sequence within Mineral and Esmeralda counties, NV
  • +8
  • Dylan Morlang,
  • Paula Noble,
  • William Hammond,
  • Aren Crandall-Bear,
  • Simon Poulson,
  • Lisa Stillings,
  • Michael Rosen,
  • Gilberto Binda,
  • Andrea Pozzi,
  • Sara Trotta,
  • Alessandro Michetti
Dylan Morlang
University of Nevada

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Paula Noble
University of Nevada, Reno
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William Hammond
Nevada Geodetic Laboratory
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Aren Crandall-Bear
University of Nevada Reno
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Simon Poulson
University of Nevada-Reno
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Lisa Stillings
U.S. Geological Survey
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Michael Rosen
USGS Water Science Field Team
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Gilberto Binda
Universita dell'Insubria
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Andrea Pozzi
Universita dell'Insubria
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Sara Trotta
Universita dell'Insubria
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Alessandro Michetti
Universita dell'Insubria
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The 2020 Monte Cristo Earthquake sequence in western Nevada began with a M6.5 shock on 5/15/20, and was the largest to occur in Nevada since 1954. The event exhibited left-lateral slip along an eastward extension of the Candelaria fault and extensive distributed surface faulting in the epicentral area. Groundwater monitoring and strain analysis were conducted to evaluate hydrochemical effects on the regional groundwater systems following the initial event. Physio-chemical monitoring, (started on 5/16 and still ongoing) includes measurements of temperature (temp), pH, specific conductance (SpC), flow rate, alkalinity and collection of samples for major ions and trace element analysis. Since sites had not been monitored prior to the initial shock, measurements were evaluated against a year of post-event data to gauge response to seismicity. Four sites were monitored: a well from Columbus Marsh (CM) located 5 km from the epicenter; an artesian thermal well from Fish Lake Valley (FL); a well at Willow Ranch (WR) tapping cool water above the FL waters; and a spring along Mina Dump Road (MD) located 15 km north of the Candelaria fault on the Benton Springs Fault. GPS and InSAR measurements were used to create a model of the slip from which we estimated coseismic strain at each sampling location. All but one sample site, MD, experienced positive dilation and CM experienced the greatest amount of strain (15-17 microstrains). Hydrologic and chemical changes were observed following the initial shock, varying between sites. CM had significantly lower SpC values in the week following the event, as well as changes in major ion composition. Other sites showed minor changes; MD showed fluctuations in pH values and FL experienced a slight drop in temp. These waters showed minimal changes in major ions and trace elemental composition. Clear responses were observed throughout three >M5 aftershocks (6/30/20, 11/13/20, and 12/1/20), especially in SpC and alkalinity. A remarkable change in elemental concentration (an increase in Ca, K, SO4, Fe, and decrease in Na, Cl, Li, and Ba) was observed in CM. WR experienced a transient increase in temp measured two weeks prior to the 11/13/20 earthquake. Strain analyses of the smaller (>M5) events are planned to further evaluate observed responses and to clarify factors affecting groundwater response.