Changes in hot spring temperature and hydrogeology of the Alpine Fault hanging wall, New Zealand, induced by distal South Island earthquakes

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Simon Cox1, Catriona Dorothy Menzies2, Rupert Sutherland1, Paul H Denys3, Calum John Chamberlain4 and Damon A H Teagle2, (1)GNS Science-Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, (2)University of Southampton, Southampton, SO14, United Kingdom, (3)University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, (4)Victoria University of Wellington, School of Geography, Environment, and Earth Sciences,, Wellington, New Zealand
In response to large distant earthquakes Copland hot spring cooled c.1 °C and changed fluid chemistry. Thermal springs in the Southern Alps, New Zealand, originate through penetration of fluids into a thermal anomaly generated by rapid uplift and exhumation on the Alpine Fault. Copland hot spring (43.629S, 169.946E) is one of the most vigorously flowing, hottest of the springs, discharging strongly effervescent CO2-rich 56-58 °C water at 6 ± 1 Ls-1. Shaking from the Mw7.8 Dusky Sound (Fiordland) 2009 and Mw7.1 Darfield (Canterbury) 2010 earthquakes, 350 and 180 km from the spring respectively, resulted in a characteristic c. 1 °C delayed-cooling over five days. The cooling responses occurred at low shaking intensities (MM III-IV) and seismic energy densities (~10-1 Jm-3) from intermediate-field distances, independent of variations in spectral frequency, without the need for post-seismic recovery before the next cooling occurred. Such shaking can be expected approximately every 1-10 years in central Southern Alps. Observed temperature and fluid chemistry responses are inferred to reflect subtle changes in the fracture permeability of schist mountains adjacent to the spring. Relatively low intensity shaking induced small permanent 10-7-10-6 strains across the Southern Alps - opening fractures which enhance mixing of relatively cool near-surface groundwater with upwelling hot water. Hydrothermal systems situated in places of active deformation, tectonic and topographic stress may be particularly susceptible to earthquake-induced transience, that if monitored may provide important information on difficult to measure hydrogeological properties within active orogens.