Elastic expansion of the lithosphere caused by groundwater withdrawal in south-central Arizona




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Relative crustal uplift observed from 1948-1949 to 1967 in the Lower Santa Cruz River Basin in south-central Arizona is attributed at least in part to elastic expansion of the lithosphere induced by the removal, and subsequent loss by evapo transpiration, of 4.35 ?? 1013 kg of groundwater from alluvium. The area of unloading is approximately 8070 km2. Uplift, relative to an apparently stable area west of the unloaded area, was observed in two areas near Casa Grande and Florence where crystalline bedrock is either close to the land surface or crops out through alluvium from which groundwater was withdrawn. The magnitudes of uplift were approximately 6.3 and 7.5 cm respectively. The observations are based on first-order leveling. The observations are significant at three standard deviations for random surveying errors, and are not believed to be affected by systematic errors. However, the 7.5-cm uplift observed at Florence may be from 1 to 2 cm in excess of the actual uplift because of the possibility of subsidence of a tie point due to groundwater pumping during the leveling in 1948-1949. Uplift is attributed to groundwater withdrawal on three bases. First, the observed uplift is consistent with a theoretical evaluation of elastic expansion based on linear elasticity theory. For the observed distribution of unloading and uplift and a Poisson's ratio of 0.25, a Young's modulus for the lithosphere of approximately 0.68 Mbar is implied. This value is comparable to values of the lithosphere reported elsewhere. Second, the magnitude of uplift compares favorably with the magnitude of elastic depression caused by the formation of Lake Mead, Arizona-Nevada, 430 km northwest of the study area, when allowance is made for the different magnitudes and areal distributions of surface (un)loading. And third, in the area near Casa Grande, a reversal in the sense of bedrock displacement form subsidence of tectonic origin to uplift approximately coincided with the beginning of large groundwater overdraft. The uplift from 1948 to 1967 near Casa Grande was preceded from 1905 to 1948 by 7-8 cm of tectonic subsidence; no precise data for the area near Florence are available before 1948. ?? 1979.

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Elastic expansion of the lithosphere caused by groundwater withdrawal in south-central Arizona
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