Deakin University

File(s) under permanent embargo

Estimation of in-situ hydro-geomechanical properties using the groundwater responses to natural cyclical forcing

conference contribution
posted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Timothy McMillan, Gabriel Rau, Wendy TimmsWendy Timms, Martin Andersen
Earth and atmospheric tides are prevalent across the land-surface and provide natural forcing to characterise the hydro-geomechanical confined subsurface by using their groundwater response. Since tides are harmonic, their individual influences on the pressure head can be separated into complex components containing level or pressure magnitudes and phases. The approximated planar strain from Earth tides, and the uniaxial loading from atmospheric tides, allow the estimation of a wide range of values based on hydraulic and poroelastic relationships. With recent research advances, tidal analysis can be used to estimate hydro-geomechanical properties including specific storage, hydraulic conductivity, porosity, shear, Young’s and Bulk moduli, Skempton’s and Biot-Willis coefficients and undrained/drained Poisson’s ratios. This approach does not require any assumption on mineral grain compressibility for unconsolidated systems. However, consolidated materials currently require an a priori estimate of grain compressibility. We applied this method to pressure measurements from different geological settings. The estimated hydro-geomechanical properties comply with theoretically expected values except for Poisson’s ratio, which differs from laboratory values due to differing confining pressures, and comparatively low frequencies of the Earth and Atmospheric tide signals. However, these estimated values from in-situ data are likely more realistic of the natural hydrogeological response. We anticipate that, by developing methods that routinely can derive engineering geotechnical values through the monitoring of hydraulic head variations, the collection of groundwater pressures will become a priority for large civic excavations or construction, such as mining, in addition to environmental studies and regulatory compliance.








Start date


End date




Publication classification

E3 Extract of paper

Title of proceedings

EGU General Assembly 2021

Usage metrics

    Research Publications