Water-level changes in shallow wells before and after the 1999 İzmit and Düzce earthquakes and comparison with long-term water-level observations (1999-2004), NW Turkey

Cenk Yaltirak*, Tolga Yalçin, Galip Yüce, Erkan Bozkurtoǧlu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


It is well known that earthquakes cause hydrological changes, such as drying or flooding of water wells, fluctuations in ground-water levels in wells, changes in water quality, and formation of new springs. Significant drops in ground-water levels in wells were recorded during recent earthquakes in NW Turkey on August 17, 1999 in İzmit and on November 12, 1999 in Düzce. The İzmit earthquake (Ms 7.4) caused pre-seismic water-level changes in wells at Eskişehir, located 118-216 km away from the epicentre. Well-level changes in the Eskişehir, Sakarya, Bursa, Yalova, Yenişehir and Inegöl basins were recorded prior to and after the Düzce earthquake (Ms 7.2) as well. These changes are due to strain on the southern Marmara segments of the Thrace-Eskişehir Fault Zone (TEFZ), which is affected by deformation of the North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ). Ground-water-level changes in wells prior to and after the earthquake away from the epicentre and the position of Eastern Marmara-Eskişehir region indicate a possible connection between well-level changes that respond to compressive and tensile stresses and shear strain away from active strike-slip faults. The wells, located in basins having an angular connection with the earthquake-producing main faults, completely activate only during major earthquakes. The wells showing anomalies prior to earthquakes are generally found near epicentres or in basins having an angular connection as stated above. The data collected after the 1999 anomalies up to September 2004 indicate that the 1999 anomalies are unique to that year. It was not difficult to separate the seasonal fluctuations of the water levels from the earthquake anomalies. In this context, it is concluded that the 1999 water level anomalies prior to the earthquake were the fast- and short-period signature of slow but long-term deformations that occurred over a large area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-309
Number of pages29
JournalTurkish Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • 1999 İzmir-Düzce earthquakes
  • Continental deformation
  • Earthquake forecast
  • Ground-water well-level changes
  • North Anatolian Fault Zone
  • Thrace-Eskişehir Fault Zone


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