EPS 200

Problems in Hydrogeology:

Mud volcanoes and geysers


Left) Strokkur geyser -- erupts every 3-4 minutes (at least during my visit during the 2008 IAVCEI meeting). Right) Strokkur (right) and the Great Geysir (left). Geysers get their name from this geyser -- Geysir erupts about twice/day.

In this course we will learn how and why geysers and mud volcanoes erupt. Of particular interest will be trying to understand how and why they respond to the small dynamic strains generated by distant earthquakes. Such understanding should provide new insights not only into geyser and mud volcano eruptions, but also into earthquake triggering processes more generally.

We will discuss the hypotheses that have been advanced to explain observations. No textbook is required, however, as a reference we will follow Ingebritsen et al. (Groundwater and Geological Processes, CUP) and Wang and Manga (Earthquakes and Water, Springer) for the background material; original papers will be assigned for reading and discussion. The book Earthquakes and Water grew out of a previous version of this class.

There will be one group project in which we will monitor the eruption of a geyser, and possibly a mud volcano. We will use the widest range of instrumentation possible, including hopefully a tiltmeter, self-potential, temperature, an infrared camera, and a seismometer. Each participant will be responsible for one of these measurements. Shaul Hurwitz at the USGS will participate in the field project (and he, with USGS colleagues, have done similar measurements before). Other possible projects (or alternative group projects) include lab experiments on the hydrofracturing of unconsolidated materials, or developing numerical models of geysers and mud volcanoes.

The course will begin with a condensed overview of hydrogeology and the coupling of fluid flow with rock deformation. In the remaining weeks we will read and discuss papers and ideas. The outline below is a starting point that will be updated weekly. Each participant will also lead or co-lead two of these weekly discussions. Everyone else will read at least a subset of these papers -- the most relevant ones -- to be determined once we finalize a reading list.

Note for leading discussions: When reviewing and presenting papers please begin by stating the question(s) the paper is(are) trying to answer. Is there a controversy? Is there a new observation that the authors are trying to understand? What makes the problem interesting? Next explain what they did (ideally highlighting what is new). No need to explain all the math, methods or figures, but it is good to explain when and where critical assumptions and approximations are being made. Then, summarize the results focussing only on what you think is interesting or what matters (lots of papers have lots of extraneous content that is included for completeness). Next, summarize what they learned and whether the question was answered. End with your thoughts on what is needed to make further progress or a critism of the work.

Instructors: Chi Wang and Michael Manga (office hours M-W-F 10-noon)

First meeting: January 20 (Wednesday), 1:00 pm

Room: McCone 401 (on the balcony)

A preliminary syllabus (with readings to be updated weekly):

Many of these papers are in a box labeled EPS 200 in room 307. Please copy them and RETURN the originals to the box.

David Mays prepared the following figure illustrating the various relationships between hydrological processes and earthquakes

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