California groundwater depletion raises Sierra Nevada mountains and earthquake risk
In addition, ground movements linked to water extraction may change stresses on the San Andreas Fault.
From NSF -- Winter rains and summer groundwater pumping in California's Central Valley make the Sierra Nevada and Coast Mountain Ranges sink and rise by a few millimeters each year, creating stress on the state's faults that could increase the risk of an earthquake. Gradual depletion of the Central Valley aquifer, because of groundwater pumping, also raises these mountain ranges by a similar amount each year--about the thickness of a dime--with a cumulative rise over the past 150 years of up to 15 centimeters (6 inches), according to calculations by a team of geophysicists.
Read more about this topic:
- EARTH Magazine - Humans causing California's mountains to grow
- National Science Foundation - California Central Valley groundwater depletion slowly raises Sierra Nevada mountains
- Smithsonian Magazine - Pulling Water Out of the Ground May Lead to Quakes on the San Andreas Fault
Image above: The GPS station that's part of the NSF Plate Boundary Observatory is pictured on a Nevada summit. Credit: Bill Hammond. From NSF.