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Japan quake set Texas aquifer in motion

March 22, 2011


When the earth shook during the March 11 earthquake off Japan, it had enough force to move water deep inside the Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas.

Within 15 minutes of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, the Edward Aquifer Authority’s J-17 monitoring well in Bexar County started to vibrate, with the water level fluctuating about a foot.

“It moved up and down for almost two hours,” said Roland Ruiz, a spokesman for the water authority. “We thought it was certainly interesting that a quake that far away would register in the aquifer.”

It isn’t the first time vibrations from earthquakes have shown up in the aquifer. Last year’s 8.8 quake in Chile and 7.0 temblor in Haiti were also detected.

The Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia, caused the largest fluctuation in the aquifer when the water level moved about 2.6 feet. That 9.1 quake triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people.

The Edwards Aquifer Authority provides water to 1.7 million people in South Central Texas, including San Antonio.

“It just seems to be a natural ripple effect felt halfway around the world,” said Ruiz, who added that the “sloshing around” inside the aquifer did not create any problems.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

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