Land subsidence due to groundwater use in US

Land subsidence due to groundwater use in US


last update:

4 months ago


  • Land subsidence due to groundwater use in the US

    Land subsidence due to groundwater use is a significant issue in many parts of the United States, particularly in regions with extensive agricultural, industrial, and urban development.
    Land subsidence occurs when the ground sinks or settles, and it is often a direct consequence of the over-extraction of groundwater from underground aquifers. Here are some key points about land subsidence due to groundwater use in the US:
    ● Central Valley, California: 
    The most well-known case of land subsidence in the United States is in California's Central Valley. This region is a major agricultural area and has experienced significant subsidence due to excessive groundwater pumping. Over-extraction of groundwater has caused land to sink by several feet in some areas, resulting in damage to infrastructure such as roads, canals, and buildings.
    ● Houston-Galveston Area, Texas: 
    Parts of the Houston-Galveston area in Texas have also experienced land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal. The subsidence has led to increased flood risks in the region, as lower-lying areas become more susceptible to inundation during heavy rainfall events.
    ● San Joaquin Valley, California: 
    Similar to the Central Valley, the San Joaquin Valley in California has experienced land subsidence due to groundwater pumping for agriculture. This subsidence has the potential to reduce the storage capacity of aquifers, making it more challenging to manage water resources in the future.
    ● Phoenix, Arizona: 
    The Phoenix metropolitan area has seen subsidence due to extensive groundwater pumping for municipal and industrial use. This subsidence can result in damage to infrastructure and an increased risk of land surface fissures.
    Land subsidence is not limited to these areas; it has been observed in various other parts of the United States, including parts of Florida, Louisiana, and the Midwest. It is often associated with areas where groundwater has been heavily relied upon for water supply and irrigation.
    Land subsidence resulting from the excessive use of groundwater in the United States can have significant and far-reaching environmental consequences. These consequences often extend beyond the immediate area of subsidence and can impact ecosystems, and water resources, and even contribute to climate change.




Many southwestern parts of the United States have been spotted with giant cracks or fissures in the ground. As per reports, these fissures have occurred due to harnessing groundwater indiscriminately over the years. 

The ground is beginning to split open across the states of Arizona, Utah and California. A recent New York Times investigation concluded that these cracks are evidence of a national crisis.

June 12

Work on the new Parkview subdivision in Enoch has stopped due to cracks in the ground due to subsidence.
Even though Enoch knew the consequences, he was unable to stop extracting groundwater, and this decision to continue pumping is being repeated across the country in cities and farmland.


Severe droughts in California's San Joaquin Valley have significantly reduced surface water flows and increased overexploitation of the aquifer. This situation has led to an increase in the rate of land subsidence.


Subsidence and resulting cracks have affected more than 3,000 square miles in Arizona, including the expanding areas of Phoenix and Tucson.


Since 1992, research conducted using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) techniques has shown that the maximum vertical deformation rate was about 19 cm.


The subsidence of the aquifer in the western-northwestern part of the Las Vegas Valley exceeded 90 m. This situation, combined with the geotectonic features of the area, led to increased land subsidence.


Based on data from sites of hydrogeological interest, aquifer overexploitation at eight sites exceeded 700 × 10 6 m 3 /year (south and southwestern United States), and at 30 sites it was between 30 × 10 m 3 /year. 6 and 700×10 6 m 3 /year (south, central, and western US).


To solve the problem, local authorities implemented surface water inflow projects in the late 1960s, which reduced the demand for groundwater.


In Arizona, areas near Luke Air Force Base and the town of Eloy experienced subsidence of up to 19 feet.

The Las Vegas Valley is a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Systematic pumping of aquifers began to meet the needs of a growing population.


Recorded vertical displacements in some parts of the Las Vegas Valley have exceeded 2 m compared to 1935 data, causing significant damage to roads, homes and other structures.



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