Aims and background
Ground response to subsurface fluid extraction in terms of land subsidence is one of the classical issues in geosciences, bearing wide implications from a societal point of view, e.g. increasing flood risks, damaging buildings and infrastructures, reducing water availability, etc. Even though major advances have been achieved, particularly over the last decades (e.g., Poland, 1984; Galloway et al., 1999, Gambolati et al., 2005; Xue et al., 2005), processes remain poorly understood in how differential vertical compaction, horizontal displacements, discontinuity in the bedrock depth, and (or) activation of existing faults influence near-surface ground failure associated with the over-exploitation of natural resources (mainly fluids) (Rojas et al, 2002).
The occurrence of earth fissuring due to extraction of natural resources from the subsurface (groundwater, gas, oil) has been observed in semiarid sedimentary basins worldwide. Examples documented in the scientific literature are: Mexico (e.g., Carreon-Freyre et al., 2005, 2010; Pacheco et al., 2006), southern USA (e.g., Holzer et al., 1979; Holzer and Galloway, 2005), China (e.g., Li et al., 2000; Zhao et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2009), India (Srivastava, 2009), Iran (Azatand and Shaharam, 2010), Saudi Arabia (Bankher and Al-Harthi, 1999), Libya (Rothenburg et al., 1995). In these countries, fissure generation and fault activation have a strong impact on the development of urban settlements, industrial centers, agricultural and other economic activities. The worst incident caused by ground failure induced by natural resource exploitation occurred in 1963 in Los Angeles, California, where the dam of the Baldwin Hills Reservoir failed by piping along a fault on which movement had been induced by oil production. The release of 946,000 m3 of water killed 5 people, destroyed 277 homes and caused many other property damages (Hamilton and Meehan, 1971). Despite this event, ground failure has continued to be caused by human activities even more during the intervening decades. Important economic, social, and environmental damages are reported: rupture of borehole casings, pipes, and canals used for groundwater withdrawal and water, oil and gas conveyance, with negative consequences both in rural zones, where the water is mainly used for crop production (e.g., in the Sarir agricultural area, Libyan desert, and in southcentral Arizona), and in urban areas (e.g., in Mexico City, Querétaro, Morelia, Toluca, Celaya and other cities located within the Transmexican Volcanic Belt in Mexico, in Beiing, Xian, Wuxi and other cities in China). Other consequences include: reduction of potable water supply; increasing on the cost of groundwater extraction; structural damages to surface structures (e.g., houses, buildings, historical heritage such as palaces and churches); cracking of infrastructures such as streets, water pipes, railways, and runways; injuries to livestock and other animals as well as to people; creation of preferential flow paths for contaminants from the surface into shallow aquifers; triggering of severe soil erosion and creation of badlands topography near the rupture.
Fissure development has been observed both within the areas where the exploitation of the natural resources occurs and along the boundaries of these areas. Density, shape, length, aperture, depth, and dislocation of the fissures vary greatly between areas and are directly related to the subsoil stratigraphic variations. In some places only a few isolated fissures have formed, whereas elsewhere many fissures occur. Up to 15 km long, 1-2 m wide, 15-20 m deep, and more than 2 m vertically dislocated fissures have been reported. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the origin of earth fissuring associated with the development of natural resources: bending caused by localized differential subsidence, horizontal movements in the developed formations, development of strain/shear stresses, reactivation of pre-existing faults (Holzer, 1984; Sheng and Helm, 1998).
Within this context, the M3EF3 project aims to:
- Map the distribution of ground failure caused by subsurface fluid extraction at the World scale, with strong emphasis given to Africa where there are very few reports of systematic studies on subsidence and related processes;
- Characterize the major features (density, shape, length, aperture, depth, and dislocation) of the detected fissure systems and identify the factors that interact for their occurrence;
- Appropriately integrate geo-Mechanical analyses, effective and economic Monitoring methodologies, and Modeling techniques to investigate the generation/propagation of earth fissure and fault activation;
- Produce a significant scientific advance in understanding the process of ground failure by focusing on a few sites (in Mexico, China, Arizona) selected by the project participants on the basis of data availability, induced damages, etc;
- Develop a procedure of risk assessment for determining the most probable conditions (from both the geological point of view and also in terms of human activities) of ground failure;
- Identify effective management and mitigation strategies that have been used to reduce this geologic risk;
- Promote the integration between scientists from different disciplines (e.g., geology, hydrogeology, geophysics, geomechanics, numerical modeling, remote sensing) and experts from developed/developing countries. Compose and enhance a network of researchers and experts on the M3EF3 topics through training workshops, field surveys, lectures, and web forums;
- Disseminate the M3EF3 outcomes through workshops, a project website, guidelines for laboratory, monitoring, and modeling investigations, risk analyses applied to ground failure, and non-technical fact sheets for policy makers and citizens. The expected ultimate societal benefits would be the use of M3EF3 outcomes to inform resource management in urban/agricultural/industrial areas affected by or susceptible to ground ruptures caused by development of subsurface fluid resources.
The increasing demand for groundwater, oil, natural gas and other natural resources over the last decades has caused both regional- and local-scale land subsidence in different regions worldwide. The consolidation and compaction of sediments has caused subsidence and earth fissuring in rural and urban areas in both inland and coastal regions. In the case of groundwater exploitation in many growing urban areas, the geological and geomorphologic properties of bounded basins provide a lateral constraint to municipal expansion generally resulting increasing population density. The increasing groundwater demand to supply the growth is applied directly to proximal groundwater resources. The result has been that ground ruptures are closely related to pre-existing regional geological faulting and/or volcanic edifices that influence the geometry and propagation of earth fissures from the groundwater extraction depths to the surface. Furthermore, the stratigraphic contacts between sediments and rocks play an important role in localizing the vertical and horizontal displacements. It has been shown that major geological discontinuities constrain groundwater flow patterns, the distribution of critical hydraulic gradients, and differential ground deformation. The effects of groundwater withdrawals in terms of piezometric changes is in part controlled by the complex geologic and hydrostratigraphic settings, and in part governs deformation and failure of susceptible consolidated and unconsolidated rocks in hydraulic connection with the exploited aquifer systems. Because fissuring and activation of pre-existing surface faults related to land subsidence accompanying groundwater extraction in susceptible aquifer systems causes important economic losses in urban infrastructure (housing, major public buildings, hydraulic networks, and major roads), these ground failures have become a problem addressed mainly by geotechnical specialists at the local scale.
In this context, the understanding of geomechanical characteristics driving the ground failure, an accurate monitoring of horizontal and vertical displacements of the land surface, and the development and application of modeling tools to simulate and predict the temporal and spatial evolution of the processes is needed. There is also a need to test various current and possible future mitigation strategies.
This proposal is based on the close collaboration amongst scientists from USA, Mexico, Italy, and China in the research on Earth fissuring and activation of surface faults accompanying land subsidence caused by groundwater extraction, a geohazard that is poorly recognized throughout much of the world. The leader and co-leaders of this proposal have been working in this subject area individually for more than 15 years and collaboratively since 2009 within the framework of the IHP-UNESCO Working Group on Land Subsidence (http://landsubsidence-unesco.org/). The M3EF3 leaders will develop an extensive research network with members from developed (e.g., Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas in USA, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy) and developing countries (e.g., India, Iran, China, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt and other sovereign countries in Africa). This cooperation will contribute to the transfer of technology and knowledge developed within M3EF3 and the application of the obtained results in sustainable management practices related with the development of groundwater supplies in vulnerable aquifer systems.
In more detail, the following activities will be performed in the areas of technological/scientific advancement:
- Hydrogeological and geomechanical characterization by integrating laboratory testing and geophysical survey. Geophysical techniques such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and surface wave seismic (MASW) profiles will be used to characterize ground deformation, the geometry of susceptible fault systems and to evaluate existing earth fissures and the potential for future propagation or fissure formation. Sample collection and laboratory tests are also planned to improve the knowledge of the mechanical properties of the aquifer-system materials;
- Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) based on satellite images, calibrated with available ground-based measurements (e.g., GPS, monitoring stations), will be used to measure land movements with millimetre accuracy. This methodology will allow us to economically monitor large areas (The European Space Agency will provide (gratis) Sentinel-1 satellite raw c-band SAR images collected since August 2014, see https://sentinel.esa.int/web/sentinel/sentinel-data-access), which benefits earth fissure investigation all over the world, especially for developing countries. The simultaneous processing of ascending and descending scenes will allow detection of horizontal displacements. The potential of this approach to monitor the occurrence of ground failure will be tested. The use of catalogue images acquired over the last 2 decades will be used to detect land displacements since the early 1990s;
- Application of advanced simulators for modeling flow and geomechanics in three dimensional (3D) complex settings, based on finite difference (FD) and finite element (FE) methods. Stress-analysis response and the use of special interface elements (IE) in geomechanical codes will allow simulating the slip and/or opening of pre-existing faults, the generation of earth fissures due to differential compaction and horizontal displacements. Model development will be based on the outcome of the hydrogeological investigations and geomechanic laboratory tests. Once calibrated by the InSAR and other available ground-based geodetic measurements, the models will be used to simulate scenarios of expected subsidence and related ground failures and to study possible mitigation strategies improving the management of the subsurface fluid resources;
- Risk assessment associated with ground failure. The results of previous scientific tasks will be integrated into a GIS system to produce an effective tool for the management of the geological risk associated with the process of earth fissuring. Natural settings (e.g., fault presence, shallow bedrock, geological discontinuities), human-related processes (e.g., lowering of the piezometric level, land subsidence), economic and social factors (population density, construction methods, industrial zones, etc.) will be appropriately combined by GIS to provide risk maps;
and knowledge transfer and dissemination:
- Implementation of a M3EF3 research network: a large number of scientists, researchers, and others working on the project topics will be contacted in order to develop a large research network. Contacts will be established thorough the M3EF3 webpage, and include the members and observers of the IHP-UNESCO Working Group on Land Subsidence, the authors publishing scientific contributions in international journals/conferences, virtual meetings, and collaborators of the project leaders;
- Development of a project website. The website will be a platform for the exchange of information between the communities working on the topics. In particular, it will comprise a number of main pages focussed on: 1) a background description of the M3EF3 project; 2) database of sites experiencing ground failure; 3) people, including researchers and officials in governmental institutions and other UNESCO geoscience programs, who are working on topics related to M3EF3; 4) M3EF3 outcomes: applied methodologies, scientific and technical papers, reports, dissemination presentations/talks; 5) M3EF3 meetings (video-connection available) and other conferences with topics linked to the topic; general webinars and 6) a discussion forum for registered users of the M3EF3 website (Blog);
- Hosting of annual project meetings and workshops with the main topics on deformation measurement and monitoring, numerical modeling and comprehensive analytical methodologies; proposing special sessions in international geoscience conferences (AGU, GSA, EGU, AOGS). Remote participation in the annual meetings and workshops will be facilitated by use of webinars with video/audio connection;
- Presenting lectures in China, Mexico, a selected country in Africa and various relevant institutions in developing countries that may join M3EF3 as members over the course of the project;
- Advising M.Sc. and Ph.D. students working in the topic area in developing (and developed) countries and exchange of advisors within the academic committees following students progress;
- Establishing guidelines for laboratory, monitoring, and modeling investigations and risk analyses applied to ground failure;
- Producing non-technical fact sheets for policy makers and citizens;
- Participation in decision makers meetings to promote the integration of the obtained results into regulations and other public policies.
IGCP support is sought specifically for M3EF3 because there is a pressing need for international collaboration amongst scientists in the developed and developing countries from around the world in research on the process of Earth fissuring and surface-fault activation caused by the over-exploitation of subsurface fluid resources. Presently, this process is prevalent in developing countries where it tends to be under-recognized and unmanaged, despite the large associated socio-economic costs. The development of a knowledge-exchange project under the umbrella of IGCP will aggregate process knowledge from an extensive research network, and promote awareness and visibility of this geo-hazard within the scientific community. In addition to enhancing process knowledge, the knowledge exchange will focus on contributing to the development of risk assessment methodologies, mitigation strategies, and sustainable-use strategies for natural-resource policy makers and managers.
Present state of activities in the field of the proposed project
The impacts of land subsidence and related ground failures have been widely studied in different countries for more than 40 years and their relationship with natural resources exploitation has been documented in detail for many study cases mainly in USA and Europe, nevertheless this is not the case for several developing countries, such as Mexico, China and some countries in Africa; where the overexploitation of groundwater (and the consequent aquifer-system compaction and resulting land subsidence) has become a national security problem (i.e. Agenda 2030, Mexican Commission of Water, 2011; National Land Subsidence Prevention Plan (2011 to 2020), State Council of P.R.China, 2012).
The international earth science community has been rigorously investigating the problem since the late 1970s. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) is the main institution that has worked on the topic of interest, in particular Joseph Poland, Thomas Holzer, Michael Carpenter, Devin Galloway, and Michelle Sneed. USGS studies published between the late 1970s and the early 1980s report on the occurrence of earth fissuring and surface-fault activation due to groundwater pumping in California, Arizona, Texas and Nevada (e.g., Holzer and Pampeyan, 1981) Levelling and aerial photograph interpretation were used to characterize the evolution of the fissure generation and propagation and to achieve a better understanding of ground failures as anthropogenic geohazards. The mechanisms of Earth fissuring were mainly studied from the 1980s to the 1990s (e.g., Helm, 1994). From the early 2000s, the research activities were mainly focused on modeling, and hence predicting, ground failure. A research group headed by Tom Burbey, Department of Geosciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) studied the importance of investigating the stress distribution in representative 2D vertical sections (e.g., Hernandez-Marin and Burbey, 2012). So far, only potential mechanisms of fissure generation in a continuous porous medium have been modelled.
The subsidence related with the water decline has been documented in Mexico City since the 1940s. Local fractures in the lacustrine sediments have been reported by Carrillo (1947) and Marsal and Mazari (1969). Since then, the intensity of fracturing has increased and caused numerous problems to urban infrastructure. Hydrogeology studies in the basin of Mexico (Rivera and Ledoux, 1991) show that piezometric levels continuously decline in the aquifer, and that subsidence and fracturing continue to increase because of transient response of the overlying aquitard. The complex mechanical behaviour of the Mexico City sediments has been widely studied (Diaz-Rodriguez and Santamarina, 2001). Furthermore, compaction of sediments related to groundwater withdrawal has caused subsidence in areas with rapidly increasing population (i.e. Mexico City, Queretaro, Toluca, Morelia, Celaya, and Salamanca) (Carreon-Freyre, 2011; Cabral Cano et al., 2010; Chaussard et al., 2014). The geological characterization of groundwater flow, ground deformation and the characterization of the ground failure occurrence have been a main research focus in the last decade for the group leaded by Dora Carreon-Freyre at the Centro de Geociencias of the UNAM in Queretaro (Carreon-Freyre and Cerca, 2006; Ochoa et al., 2014). The multidisciplinary analysis of these phenomena allowed a better understating of the triggering mechanisms and propagation of fracturing in Queretaro and Mexico City. The integration of a multi-disciplinary methodology in the field and in laboratory (remote sensing, field geophysics, geological mapping, soil mechanics techniques and subsurface geology by the stratigraphic correlation of lithological logs) is being applied by trained specialists in the Centro de Evaluacion de Riesgo Geologico (CERG, Center of Evaluation of Geological Risk) located in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, and founded by Dora Carreon-Freyre in 2008.
Modeling land subsidence due to subsurface fluid withdrawals has been a major research topic in Italy since 1970s (Gambolati G., and R. A. Freeze, 1973). The leading group is headed by Giuseppe Gambolati at the University of Padova. Three-dimensional coupled and uncoupled stress/strain analyses have been performed for predicting land subsidence and horizontal displacements due to over-exploitation of multi-aquifer systems and development of deep hydrocarbon reservoirs. Recently, an original numerical approach based on “Interface Elements” (IE) has been developed to simulate the possible activation of regional faults due to hydrocarbon production (Ferronato M., et al., 2008).The same modeling approach has been used to carry out some preliminary simulations of earth fissure generation and propagation caused by groundwater pumping (C. Janna, et al., 2010). IE prove especially suited to address the relative displacements of adjacent elements such as the opening and slippage of pre-existing faults or the generation of new fractures. Significant advances have been made in the monitoring technique field. TRE Srl, a spin-off of the Polytechnic University of Milano, was the first group who developed the interferometry approach on radar scatterers (Ferretti, A., et al., 2001). This method has proved particularly effective in detecting large differential displacements as those produced by ground failure.
In China, earth fissuring related to groundwater pumping occurred in the 1970s (Chuanmei Suo et al., 2005), The China Geological Survey (CGS) is the main institution that has worked on the topic of interest, CGS reports that there are 9 provinces where earth fissuring has occurred in China, mainly in the North China Plain (Beijing, Cangzhou etc.), Fenhe River and Wenhe River Valleys (Xi’An, Datong etc.), and Yangtze Delta (Wuxi, Changzhou etc.). Dr. Wenpeng Li from the Center for Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, CGS led a project of Investigation and Evaluation of Earth Fissuring in the North China Plain from 2006 to 2009. It was found that more than 500 earth fissures exist in the North China Plain caused by combining effects of pre-existing regional geological faulting and groundwater pumping. Dr. Jianbin Peng from Changan University has worked on earth fissuring in Xi’An City for more than 30 years on the topics of geological characterization of ground deformation, the characterization of the ground failure, GPS and InSAR measurement methods (Jianbin Peng, 2012). Dr. Jinqi Zhu, Dr. Jun Yu and Dr. Guangya Wang et al. from Geological Survey of Jiangsu Province have worked more than 20 years on investigating earth fissures in Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou cities of Jiangsu Province (Yu J., et al., 2004; Wang GY, et al., 2009). They published a book entitled ‘Earth Fissures in Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou cities’ to introduce the distribution and mechanisms of earth fissuring in this area in 2004. It summarized earth fissures triggered by groundwater withdrawal and geological structures (Wang GY, et al., 2009). A key Laboratory of Earth Fissuring was established in 2012 by the Geological Survey of Jiangsu Province supported by CGS to study Mechanisms, Monitoring and Modeling Earth Fissure generation due to subsurface Fluid exploitation (same as the objectives of this proposed IGCP project). Dr. Yuqun Xue and Dr. Shujun Ye et al., from Nanjing University have worked on land subsidence modeling since 2000 (Xue YQ et al., 2008; Ye SJ et al., 2011). They are working on three-dimensional coupled and uncoupled stress/strain analyses to predict land subsidence and horizontal displacements due to over-exploitation of multi-aquifer systems and are at the very beginning stage of developing numerical models of earth fissuring.
In other developing countries affected by Earth fissures and surface fault reactivation caused by groundwater extraction, research activities are still at the beginning stages. In India, several incidences of ground fissures have been reported from different parts of various regions for the last few years by the Geological Survey of India who has carried out a multidisciplinary study involving quaternary geology, geomorphology, groundwater, geotechnical and geophysical studies (Srivastava, D., 2009). Important contributions from Iran have been provided by the Geological Society of Iran and a number of universities such as the Islamic Azad University in Tehran, the University of Isfahan, the Shahid Bahonar University in Kerman (e.g., Azat., E. and S. Shahram, 2010). Very preliminary investigations were conducted by few researchers in other arid and semi-arid courtiers in Africa, for example Libya and Ethiopia (e.g., L. Ayalewa, et al., 2004) and Western Asia, such as Saudi Arabia (e.g., Bankher, K. A. and A. A. Al-Harthia, 1999).
The leader and co-leaders of M3EF3, which are well-balanced from both the gender and the representativeness of developed/developing country perspectives, have worked in this subject area individually for more than 15 years and together since 2009 within the framework of the IHP-UNESCO Working Group on Land Subsidence (http://landsubsidence-unesco.org/). Dora Carreon-Freyre and Devin Galloway were the organizers of the Eighth International Symposium on Land Subsidence and the editors of the meeting proceedings. Pietro Teatini and Dora Carreon-Freyre worked together in an exchange project sponsored by the National University of Mexico in 2011. Pietro Teatini and Shujun Ye worked collaboratively on projects sponsored by Padova University and National Science Foundation of China, respectively, in 2014.
Workplan (items by year)
M3EF3 is planned in two main parallel steps. The first step focuses on the development and testing of an appropriate integrated methodology for understanding fissuring mechanisms, monitoring fissure evolution and predicting its behaviour by numerical models. The second step is related to capacity building and dissemination of the scientific advances in a large international network of scientists.
The main scientific objective of the proposal is to integrate and validate a methodology of studying ground failure combining several tools to achieve an effective understanding of the hydrogeological and geomechanical behavior of over-exploited aquifer systems in urbanized fluvial-lacustrine areas. There is a particular emphasis on the evaluation of surface displacement and Earth fissuring and fault activation due to pumping of groundwater and other subsurface fluids. The methodology will be tested initially at field sites in China (possibly including Wuxi and Xi’an), Mexico (possibly including Queretaro and Mexico City) and the USA (possibly including affected areas in Arizona, California and Nevada) where significant hydrogeologic and geomechanical data are available, and then possibly used in other case studies. A better understanding of these phenomena will be used to inform rational management of groundwater and urban development planning in developing countries.
These parallel steps focussing on scientific methodology research (S) and capacity building and information dissemination (D) will be achieved through the following specific activities in the studied areas:
S1. The integration of pre-existing information and generation of new data related to hydrogeological and geomechanical characteristics of the stratigraphic sequences;
S2. The analysis of groundwater flow and extraction;
S3. The integration of conventional techniques for field monitoring ground failure with InSAR remote sensing analysis for mapping vertical and horizontal surface displacements.
S4. The application of the most advanced tools for simulating groundwater flow, subsurface subsidence, and ground failure;
S5. Development of an effective GIS management tool for the assessment of geological risks associated with nucleation and propagation of ground failures accompanying subsidence caused by groundwater extraction—Earth fissuring and surface-fault activation. Strategies that integrate optimization in groundwater management and land-use planning constrained by the subsidence and accompanying ground failures will be proposed to be implemented in areas with high potential risk of ground failure to local and regional authorities.
D1. M3EF3 network implementation;
D2. M3EF3 project website including background, sites, databases, people, outcomes, meetings, and forum (blog);
D3. Annual project meetings, workshops and courses, special sessions in international conferences; interviews and press releases;
D4. Lectures and workshops in institutions in developing countries;
D5. Scientific Papers in international high-impact journals;
D6. Guidelines for laboratory, monitoring, and modeling investigations, and risk analyses related to ground failure;
D7. Non-technical fact sheets for policy makers (regulations) and citizens.
The M3EF3 workplan follows:
First Year (2015-2016)
|Field and laboratory:||
|Project Meeting and Workshop:||
|Conference:||Ninth International Symposium on Land Subsidence (NISOLS), Nagoya, Japan, November 2015 (D3)|
|Field trip:||Beijing, Xi’an, Wuxi cities in China|
Second Year (2016-2017)
|Field and laboratory:||
|Project Meeting and Workshop:||
|Conference:||Sponsored sessions at international conferences, such as AGU and/or AOGS (D3)|
|Field trip:||Mexico City and Querétaro, Mexico|
Third Year (2017-2018)
|Field and laboratory:||
|Project Meeting and Workshop:||
|Conference:||Sponsored sessions at international conferences, such as GSA and/or EGU (D3)|
|Field trip:||Venice coastland in Italy or, alternatively, sites in the country where the 3rd meeting will be held|
Fourth Year (2018-2019)
|Field and laboratory:||
|Project Meeting and Workshop:||
|Conference:||Sponsored sessions at international conferences, such as AGU, GSA and EGU (D3)|
|Field trip:||Sites in southcentral Arizona, USA characterized by Earth fissuring such as Casa Grande, Phoenix, Picacho, Queens Creek, Wilcox, in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the Arizona Geological Survey and the University of Arizona|
Outcomes expected from this project include improving the science and developing methodologies for characterizing the Mechanisms Monitoring and Modeling Earth Fissure generation and Fault activation due to subsurface Fluid exploitation (M3EF3).
a) Basic science
- Appropriately integrate geo-Mechanical analyses, effective and economic Monitoring methodologies, and Modeling techniques to investigate the generation/propagation of Earth fissure and fault activation, and predicting its temporal evolution;
- Develop a systematic procedure of risk assessment for determining the most probable conditions (from both the geological and human activities perspectives) of ground failure;
- Produce a significant scientific advance in understanding the process of ground failure by focusing on the more strictly scientific aspects of ground deformation conditions at study sites in China, Mexico and the USA selected by the project participants on the basis of data availability, induced damages, etc;
- Propose appropriate management and mitigation strategies to cope with the geologic risk;
- Publish results in international peer-review journals.
2015: Analysis of subsidence and Earth fissuring in the selected test sites. Integration of multidisciplinary studies in the China, Mexico and USA case studies; Development the methodology of Monitoring Earth Fissuring; First annual report of M3EF3 project.
2016: Development the methodology of Modeling 3D land subsidence and Earth fissuring; Second annual report of M3EF3 project; Papers in international high-impact journals.
2017: Development of the GIS-based risk assessment tool for the selected sites; Third annual report of M3EF3 project.
2018: Definition of protocols and guidelines to reduce the risk of Earth fissuring and mitigation of its occurrence; Final annual report of M3EF3 project; Papers in international high-impact journals.
b) Applied science, technology
- Map the distribution of ground failure attributed to groundwater extraction at the World scale, with strong emphasis given to Africa where there are very few reports of systematic studies on subsidence and related processes.
- Characterize the major features (density, shape, length, aperture, depth, and dislocation) of the detected fissure systems and identify the factors that interact for their occurrence;
- Application of methodologies developed in M3EF3 to cases in in China, Mexico and the USA;
- Promote integration between scientists from multidisciplines (e.g., geology, hydrogeology, geophysics, geomechanics, numerical modeling, remote sensing) and experts from developed/developing countries. Implement and enlarge a network of researchers and experts on the M3EF3 topics through training workshops, field surveys, lectures, and web forums.
2015: Identification of sites worldwide affected by ground failure due to overexploitation of subsurface fluid resources; Establish contacts and correspondence with reference scientists for each of the identified ground-failure sites introduced in the worldwide map with strong emphasis given to scientists in affected African countries; Field trip to case-study sites in China; Map of worldwide occurrence of ground failure attributed to groundwater extraction with related metadata (related papers, fissure geometry, causes, etc.).
2016: Application of the methodology of Monitoring Earth Fissuring at the case-study sites; Modeling 3D land subsidence and Earth fissuring at the case-study sites; Selection of sites of interest in other developing countries, with researchers that are member of M3EF3. Collection of available information; Field trip to the sites in Mexico.
2017: Application of M3 integrated approach to the new sites; Field trip to Venice coastland in Italy.
2018: Application of the GIS-based risk assessment tool for the new selected sites Field trip to sites in USA characterized by Earth fissuring.
c) Benefit to society
The expected ultimate societal benefits include the use of M3EF3 outcomes to establish management, public policies and possible regulatory criteria in urban/agricultural/industrial planning; with respect to the development of subsurface fluid resources and the identification of effective mitigation strategies of accompanying ground failures. Disseminate the M3EF3 outcomes through workshops, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, a project website, non-technical fact sheets for policy makers and citizens, and guidelines for laboratory, monitoring, and modeling investigations, and risk analyses applied to ground failure.
2015: Implementation of the M3EF3 network of researchers; Launch of the M3EF3 website; Lecturers in China on the topic of InSAR.
2016: Enlargement of the M3EF3 network of researchers; Update of the M3EF3 website; Lecturers in Mexico on the topic of modeling.
2017: Enlargement of the M3EF3 network of researchers; Update of the M3EF3 website; Press releases; Lecturers in developing countries of members of the project on the topic of GIS-based risk assessment tool.
2018: Update of the M3EF3 website; Press releases; Lecturers in developing countries of members of the project on the topic of protocols and guidelines; Non-technical fact sheets for policy makers and citizens.
Location of major field activities
The initial sites planned for the field investigation are the following:
- Mexico City, Queretaro in Mexico
- Southcentral Arizona; Central Valley, California; Nevada USA
- Beijing City, Xi’an City, Wuxi City China
Then, at the end of the first year, other sites will be selected between the developing countries adjoined to the project depending, for example, on data availability, accessibility, etc.
Location of major laboratory research (assured co-operation of laboratories)
- Laboratorio de Mecanica de Geosistemas (LAMG), UNAM Queretaro, Mexico
- Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Enginnering, University of Padova, Italy
- Nanjing University, Changan University, Jiangsu Geological Suvery China