Modern surface faulting along the Picacho fault, east of Picacho, Arizona, has been attributed to ground-water withdrawal. In September 1977, three exploratory test holes were drilled 5 km east of Picacho and across the Picacho fault to investigate subsurface conditions and the mechanism of the faulting. The holes were logged by conventional geophysical and geologic methods. Piezometers were set in each hole and have been monitored since September 1977. The drilling indicates that the unconsolidated alluvium beneath the surface fault is approximately 310 m thick. Drilling and piezometer data and an associated seismic refraction survey indicate that the modern faulting is coincident with a preexisting, high-angle, normal fault that offsets units within the alluvium as well as the underlying bedrock. Piezometer and neutron log data indicate that the preexisting fault behaves as a partial ground-water barrier. Monitoring of the piezometers indicates that the magnitude of the man-induced difference in water level across the preexisting fault is seasonal in nature, essentially disappearing during periods of water-level recovery. The magnitude of the seasonal difference in water level, however, appears to be sufficient to account for the modern fault offset by localized differential compaction caused by a difference in water level across the preexisting fault. In addition, repeated level surveys since September 1977 of bench marks across the surface fault and near the piezometers have indicated fault movement that corresponds to fluctuations of water level.
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USGS Numbered Series
Results and interpretation of exploratory drilling near the Picacho Fault, south-central Arizona