Ground subsidence, Quaternary faults and vulnerability of utilities and transportation networks in Thessaly, Greece

V. Kontogianni, S. Pytharouli, S. Stiros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Ground fissures and subsidence have caused extensive damage in structures and the utility networks (roads, railroad line, Larisa NATO airport, telecommunication network) in the plain of Thessaly, central Greece, in the last 20 years. The fact that these fissures are parallel to Quaternary faults controlling the structural evolution of the Thessaly basin, marked by intense recent seismic activity, led some scientists to regard them as manifestation of tectonic creep, even premonitory phenomena of major future seismic events. A careful study of the geometric characteristics and of the kinematics of these ground fissures, however, revealed that they only reflect shear failure of the ground due to compaction of loose sediments following significant decline of the groundwater level due to over-pumping; i.e. a geotechnical and not a tectonic process. Furthermore, theoretical considerations and modeling predict surface fissuring along zones of anomalous basement, normal-fault controlled topography. This explains the correlation between ground fissures and active Quaternary normal faults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1095
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Geology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2007



  • consolidation
  • Greece
  • ground fissures
  • groundwater withdrawal
  • land subsidence
  • Thessaly
  • utility networks

Cite this