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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Responses of a 234U/238U activity ratio in groundwater to earthquakes in the South Baikal Basin, Siberia
Sergei RASSKAZOV1,2(), Aigul ILYASOVA1, Sergei BORNYAKOV1,2, Irina CHUVASHOVA1,2, Eugene CHEBYKIN1,3
1. Institute of the Earth’s Crust, Siberian Branch of RAS, Irkutsk 664033, Russia
2. Irkutsk State University, Irkutsk 664033, Russia
3. Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of RAS, Irkutsk 664033, Russia
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Abstract

In the western part of the South Baikal Basin, spatial-temporal distribution of earthquake epicenters shows quasi-periodic seismic reactivation. The largest earthquakes that occurred in 1999 (MW = 6.0) and 2008 (MW = 6.3) fall within seismic intervals of 1994–2003 and 2003–2012, respectively. In the seismic interval that began in 2013, the 234U/238U activity ratio (AR) in groundwater was monitored assuming its dependence on crack opening/closing that facilitated/prevented water circulation in an active boundary fault of the basin. Transitions from disordered, high-amplitude fluctuations of AR values to consistent, low-amplitude fluctuations in different monitoring sites were found to be sensitive indicators of both small seismic events occurring directly on the observation area, and of a large remote earthquake. The hydroisotopic responses to seismic events were consistent with monitoring data on deformation and temperature variations of rocks. The hydroisotopic effects can be applied for detecting a seismically dangerous state of an active fault and prediction of a large future earthquake.

Keywords 234U/238U      groundwater      earthquake      active fault      Baikal     
Corresponding Author(s): Sergei RASSKAZOV   
Online First Date: 13 August 2020   
 Cite this article:   
Sergei RASSKAZOV,Aigul ILYASOVA,Sergei BORNYAKOV, et al. Responses of a 234U/238U activity ratio in groundwater to earthquakes in the South Baikal Basin, Siberia[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 13 August 2020. [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1007/s11707-020-0821-5.
 URL:  
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fesci/EN/10.1007/s11707-020-0821-5
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fesci/EN/Y/V/I/0
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Sergei RASSKAZOV
Aigul ILYASOVA
Sergei BORNYAKOV
Irina CHUVASHOVA
Eugene CHEBYKIN
Fig.1  Spatial position of the Kultuk area for earthquake prediction between the extended South Baikal Basin and compressed inverted area of the Tunka Valley. Panel (a): master faults of the South Baikal Basin are adopted (Florensov, 1968), epicenter and mechanism of the main seismic shock and aftershocks of the 2008 Kultuk earthquake (Melnikova et al., 2012), epicenter of the 1999 South Baikal earthquake (Radziminovich et al., 2006), zones of hot transtension (Rasskazov et al., 2013). Panel (b): earthquake distribution in the Baikal-Mongolian region from 1960–2003 (Sherman, 2014).
Fig.2  Seismicity of the South Baikal Basin and coast from 1994–2017 (data from the catalog of the Baikal Branch of the Geophysical Service of the SB RAS (Map, 2018)). (a) distribution of earthquake epicenters; (b) – a sequence of seismic events of different energy classes with subdivision into reactivations of strong earthquakes (K= 12.2–15.9) in the western part of the South Baikal Basin; (c) – transition from a generation of earthquakes (M≥4) in the SW boundary fault and western part of the Obruchev Fault to their generation in the northeastern part of the Obruchev Fault. The spatial separation of earthquake epicenters, shown by different symbols on panel (a), is presented in a grouping of earthquakes with different energy classes on panels (b) and (c).
Fig.3  Distribution of earthquake epicenters in the western part of the South Baikal Basin and adjacent coast in 2003–2014. Symbols as in Fig. 1.
Stage of build-up Characteristics and timing
Kultuk Earthquake of
August 27, 2008
Probable future earthquake of
2019–2020
A Reactivation of the western fragment in the Obruchev Fault
(February 25–September 21, 2005)
Koty reactivation
(January 8–July 21, 2013)
B Development of seismic processes in the Khamardaban land branch (January 11–March 6, 2006) Murino reactivation within inundated area of the lake (August 11, 2013–July 20, 2014)
C Peschanaya-Snezhnaya epicentral band (February 12–December 6,2007) Activity of the Goloustnoe and Koty epicentral clusters (January 13, 2015–August 29, 2016)
D Migration of epicenters from the Snezhnaya cluster to the Kultuk Village and back with clockwise rotation (January 2–31, 2008), individual earthquake near the Kultuk Village (May 4, 2008) Phase D1: activity of the Murino part of the Goloustnoe-Murino epicentral line (December 14, 2016–October 10, 2017), phase D2: activity of the Listvyanka–Posol’skaya Bank epicentral line (March 16–July 31, 2018), probable additional events (2020 or later)
Tab.1  Comparison of build-up stages for the Kultuk and probable future large earthquakes
Fig.4  Comparisons of spatial-temporal patters of earthquake epicenters related to build-up of the Kultuk and probable future earthquakes. Symbols as in Fig. 2. (a) – stages A–D (Table 1); (b) – similar stages of a probable future large earthquake; (c) – stage correlation on time scale.
Fig.5  East–west distribution of earthquake epicenters relative to the Kultuk area. Intervals of seismic reactivation (SR) and those of sparse earthquakes (ISE) are separated by aseismic intervals (AI). Roman numerals from I to III within circles indicate the Tolbazikha, Koty, and Murino seismic reactivations, respectively, during which monitoring was conducted with registration of small earthquakes in the Kultuk area. Data points to the east of longitude 105.5 grades are not shown.
Fig.6  Synthesis of data on spatial-temporal evolution of seismicity in the western part of the South Baikal Basin before and after the Tolbazikha reactivation that finalized the 2003–2012 seismic interval. Panels (a) and (b) show locations of the two major epicenters and an epicenter cluster of the Tolbazikha reactivation relative to preceding (a) and subsequent (b) epicenter characteristics. Scheme a demonstrates repeated triple combinations of major epicenters and epicenter clusters in the Snezhnaya, Kultuk, and Tolbazikha reactivations, spatially connected with both the northern and southern master faults of the basin. Scheme b shows the transition from the triangular distribution of epicenters in the Tolbazikha reactivation to the linear distribution of epicenter clusters during the Koty reactivation, followed by the Goloustnoe-Murino epicenter line (the north-eastern extension of the line shown in Fig. 4). The SW boundary fault of the South Baikal Basin extends along granulites of the Slyudyanka metamorphic sub-terrane. The fault that inherits this zone is in discordant relations with the S boundary fault, along which the intermediate Tankhoi tectonic step was separated from both the raised Khamar-Daban Range and the subsided bottom of Lake Baikal. The southwestern underwater extension of the northeastern fragment of the Obruchev Fault traces the probable boundary of the Sludyanka metamorphic sub-terrane. The boundary of the granulite metamorphism zone is shown after Shafeev (1970).
Fig.7  The Kultuk area for earthquake prediction. Areas of elevated AR values in groundwater are highlighted (Rasskazov et al., 2015). Paleoseismogenic dislocations in the Main Sayan Fault zone are shown (Chipizubov and Smekalin, 1999).
Element concentrations in measured solutions/(mg·L−1) <0.001 0.001–0.1 0.1–1 >1
RSD/% >25 25–10 10–5 5
Tab.2  Typical errors of [U] measurements using an Agilent 7500ce quadruple ICP-MS spectrometer
Fig.8  Temporal variations of 234U/238U AR vs. 1/U in groundwater from sites 9 (a), 8 (b), and 27 (c) in the context of seismic activity in the western part of the South Baikal Basin (explanations in the text). The Tolbazikha reactivation: site 9 – episodes 1–2, site 8 – episode 1; the Koty reactivation: site 9 – episodes 3–4, site 8 – episode 2, site 27 – episodes 1–2; initial stage of the Murino reactivation: site 9 – episode 5, site 8 – episode 3, site 27 – episode 3 (transitional from the component II1 of the Koty reactivation, designated as (II1), to components III1 and III2 of the Murino reactivation); middle and final stages of the Murino reactivation: site 9 – episodes 6–9, site 8 – episodes 4–7, site 27 – episodes 4–8.
Fig.9  Temporal AR variations in groundwater from sites 9 (a), 8 (b), and 27 (c) in the context of seismic reactivations in the western part of the South Baikal Basin. Symbols as in Fig. 8. The extreme components of seismic reactivations are indicated for each site. Red ellipses mark data points that correspond to the phases IIb and IIIb, when seismic events occurred in the Kultuk area or its vicinity. Red arrows indicate trends of isotope ratios fixed at the phases IIb and IIIb. The yellow rectangles on panels a and b indicate the interval (first half of 2014), in which AR oscillations in sites 9 and 8 were mutually consistent. One bar on the abscissa axis corresponds to one month.
Fig.10  Temporal variations of [U] in groundwater from sites 9 (a), 8 (b), and 27 (c) in the context of seismic reactivation in the western part of the South Baikal Basin. Symbols of data groups as in Figs. 8 and 9. In panel (a), the phases of small seismic reactivations from Ic to IIId that occurred after strong reactivation from 2007–2010, are marked within circles. Green arrows pointing down show dates of earthquakes that occurred in the Kultuk area (Fig. 5), arrows of four different colors directing up indicate dates of earthquakes that occurred outside the area at different distances from the Obruchev fault (Fig. 11). Maximum [U] is followed with the fan of branches with the lower [U]. One bar on the abscissa axis corresponds to one month.
Fig.11  Explanation of the Cherdyntsev-Chalov effect by crack opening/closing. (a) – recoil atom 234U enrichment of groundwater circulated through open cracks; (b) – no enrichment due to the crack closing that limits the groundwater circulation.
Fig.12  U–Sr isotope systematics of groundwater from suture rocks in the Kultuk area. (a) – model for end-member mixing on the diagram 234U/238U AR vs. 87Sr/86Sr; (b) – subdivision of monitoring sites in terms of water circulation control by opened and closed cracks in an active fault. The end members: E – with equilibrium U, NE – with nonequilibrium U.
Sample location U/(µg·L–1) 234U/238U AR PRE (1s) /% Sr/(µg·L–1) 87Sr/86Sr ±2s
Site 8 3.30 2.33 0.72 123 0.711328 0.000010
Site 9 0.17 2.53 0.82 158 0.712377 0.000009
Site 27 0.27 3.26 0.79 65 0.705341 0.000009
Site 14k 0.42 1.14 1.10 140 0.717888 0.000009
Southern Baikal 0.45 1.96 0.80 99 0.708629 0.000009
Tab.3  U and Sr concentrations and isotope ratios in groundwater from the Kultuk area and in deep water from Lake Baikal
Fig.13  Temporal variations of a Delta AR in groundwater from sites 9, 8, 27, and 14k (a) in comparison to temporal variations of rock deformation recorded in the Talaya adit in a first approximation (b) and with a high resolution (c). The values of an AR median are accepted for a 6-year time interval of observations: site 9 – 2.485, site 8 – 2.35, site 27 – 3.13, site 14k – 1.165.
Fig.14  Variations of temperature in rocks of the Talaya adit recorded in a first approximation (a) and with a high resolution (b) as compared to timing of an earthquake on March 19, 2014 and sampling of site 14k on February 23, 2014 and March 22, 2014.
Fig.15  Relationship between AR steps in sites 8 (a) and 9 (b) during the Murino reactivation (during the first half of 2014). One step designates a time interval in which AR values are comparable to each other within error.
Fig.16  Temporal variations of an AR in groundwater of site 27 from 2013 to 2017 and proposed future hydroisotopic responses to build-up and occurrence of a probable large earthquake.
Fig.17  Temporal variations of an AR site 9/site 8 in groundwater from 2012 to 2017 and proposed future hydroisotopic responses to buildup and occurrence of a probable large earthquake. Symbols as in Fig. 16.
Fig.18  Options of a probable large earthquake epicenter in the South Baikal Basin (explanations in the text). Symbols as in Fig. 4. Four probable positions of the epicenter: 1 – central part of the Obruchev Fault, 2 – Kultuk area, 3 – lake area near Kultuk, 4 – Middle Baikal.
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