Multilayered analysis of subsidence in the valley of Querétaro, Mexico
In this work we present a new methodology to evaluate the stress and strain produced during the process of subsidence within a multi-layered aquifer system with different granular materials. The hydraulic properties of the materials are such that the increase of the effective stress is assumed to be time independent and to occur simultaneously to the groundwater drop. For this purpose, we derive expressions to estimate the increase of effective stress from the volumetric and gravimetric relation for the soil mass, which allows us to estimate the strain distribution and deformations within the drained soil mass as well as below the water level. The methodology is useful to simulate the phenomenon of subsidence by means of the analysis of an equivalent system, which consist of the evaluation of the effect of an apparent increase of the volumetric weight associated with the increase of the effective stress. The model is applied to a geological section of the free aquifer of the Queretaro valley deduced from gravity measurements and calibrated with lithology logs from available wells. This led us to define the aquifer thickness and the distribution of the different material types within it. Then, by using finite elements, we made a stress and strain analysis on the section of the effect of water withdrawal of the aquifer. A boundary condition imposed to the system is the actual average level of drawdown, which is about 150 m. The results are compared with observed subsidence and soil failure along the modeled section.