Subsidence rates at the southern Salton Sea consistent with reservoir depletion

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



Space geodetic measurements from the Envisat satellite between 2003 and 2010 show that subsidence rates near the southeastern shoreline of the Salton Sea in Southern California are up to 52mmyr−1 greater than the far-field background rate. By comparing these measurements with model predictions, we find that this subsidence appears to be dominated by poroelastic contraction associated with ongoing geothermal fluid production, rather than the purely fault-related subsidence proposed previously. Using a simple point source model, we suggest that the source of this proposed volumetric strain is at depths between 1.0 km and 2.4 km (95% confidence interval), comparable to generalized boundaries of the Salton Sea geothermal reservoir. We find that fault slip on two previously imaged tectonic structures, which are part of a larger system of faults in the Brawley Seismic Zone, is not an adequate predictor of surface velocity fields because the magnitudes of the best fitting slip rates are often greater than the full plate boundary rate and at least 2 times greater than characteristic sedimentation rates in this region. Large-scale residual velocity anomalies indicate that spatial patterns predicted by fault slip are incompatible with the observations.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Subsidence rates at the southern Salton Sea consistent with reservoir depletion
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1002/2016JB012903
Volume 121
Issue 7
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher AGU Publications
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 20 p.
First page 5308
Last page 5327
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Salton Sea
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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