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Earth‐tides shown by fluctuations of water‐levels in wells in New Mexico and Iowa

September 23, 1939

It is quite generally known that ocean‐tides produce fluctuations of the water‐level in wells of the artesian type located close to the seashore by periodically changing the external load on the aquifer [see 1 of “References” at end of paper]. Fluctuations of ground‐water as a result of earth‐tides, however, are not generally known although they were observed and studied in a flooded coal‐mine in Europe [2] as early as 1879, and later 1905 to 1912 in wells in South Africa [3].

The phenomena of earth‐tides first came to the attention of the writer in March, 1938, when studying fluctuations of the water‐level In an artesian well near Carlsbad, New Mexico, recorded on charts of a water‐stage recorder, which had an approximately semidiurnal period. Because of the distance from the ocean, about 500 miles, and the altitude of the water‐bearing formation, about 2700 feet, it appeared that the fluctuations could not be the result of ocean‐tides. Neither did it appear they could be the result of other natural phenomena such as changing air‐pressure or changes in water‐level of a nearby lake and river. There was no pumpage from the aquifer, so the fluctuations of the water could not be caused by pumping. T. M. Cramer, Resident Manager of the United States Potash Company at Carlsbad, New Mexico, suggested that the fluctuations must be the result of some lunar attraction. Further study of the fluctuation was made by Dr. C. V. Theis, of the United States Geological Survey, and the writer, whereby the effect of changing air‐pressure was eliminated by correcting the water‐levels to an assumed constant atmospheric pressure. In this study it was demonstrated after applying the barometric correction that the remaining fluctuations were fairly regular and progressed with the transit of the Moon. It was also demonstrated that the fluctuations were of the greatest amplitude during the period of new Moon. Further work by W. E. Hale, of the United States Geological Survey, and the writer, has shown that the fluctuations were much more regular and of greater amplitude during the periods of new and full Moon than during the first and third quarters. It was, therefore, concluded that they are related to true earth‐tides. A preliminary note was published in the Transactions of the American Geophysical Union for 1938 [4].

Citation Information

Publication Year 1939
Title Earth‐tides shown by fluctuations of water‐levels in wells in New Mexico and Iowa
DOI 10.1029/TR020i004p00656
Authors T. W. Robinson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
Index ID 70214133
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse