Articles | Volume 2, issue 2/3
30 Sep 1998
30 Sep 1998

Land subsidence and hydrodynamic compaction of sedimentary basins

H. Kooi and J. J. de Vries

Abstract. A one-dimensional model is used to investigate the relationship between land subsidence and compaction of basin sediments in response to sediment loading. Analysis of the model equations and numerical experiments demonstrate quasi-linear systems behaviour and show that rates of land subsidence due to compaction: (i) can attain a significant fraction (>40%) of the long-term sedimentation rate; (ii) are hydrodynamically delayed with respect to sediment loading. The delay is controlled by a compaction response time τc that can reach values of 10-5-107 yr for thick shale sequences. Both the behaviour of single sediment layers and multiple-layer systems are analysed. Subsequently the model is applied to the coastal area of the Netherlands to illustrate that lateral variability in compaction-derived land subsidence in sedimentary basins largely reflects the spatial variability in both sediment loading and compaction response time. Typical rates of compaction-derived subsidence predicted by the model are of the order of 0.1 mm/yr but may reach values in excess of 1 mm/yr under favourable conditions.