EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Hydrogeologic and microseismic monitoring as a tool to evaluate fault criticality in karstic regions

Léa Perrochet, Giona Preisig, and Benoît Valley
Léa Perrochet et al.
  • Center for hydrogeology and geothermics, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchâtel , Switzerland (

Natural groundwater level fluctuation in karstic networks resulting from significant recharge (precipitation and/or seasonal snowmelt) can potentially induce seismicity. Triggering is often considered to be the result of pore pressure diffusion front migrating from the surface to focal depth, assuming a homogeneous crust. Although this assumption can be acceptable in some cases (e.g. homogeneously fractured basement) it is hardly justified in known karstic area. Considering the specific features of karst and data of three case studies, we elaborate a conceptual model of rain-triggered seismicity in karstic regions by identifying potential triggering mechanisms and, using simplified analytical solutions, quantifying their impact on fault stability. Results of this analysis indicate that a direct hydrogeological connection between karstic conduits and the hypocenter can lead to pore pressure variation of the order of MPa, potentially initiating a rupture. To test the conceptual model, field investigations are carried out in the Jura Mountains, a well-known karstic area with low to moderate seismicity. Data acquisition consists in monitoring the natural microseismicity and the flowrate at karstic springs, used as a direct proxy for groundwater level fluctuations.Combining both data sets allows to identify events that are potentially rain-triggered and to acquire a quantitative knowledge on what pressure change, inferred from the hydraulic head increase, is affecting the fault’s stability, a valuable information when planning underground projects.

How to cite: Perrochet, L., Preisig, G., and Valley, B.: Hydrogeologic and microseismic monitoring as a tool to evaluate fault criticality in karstic regions, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-11775,, 2023.