Land subsidence

Photo: USGS

Land subsidence is the gradual settling of the Earth’s surface. Subsidence can be caused by a variety of factors; however, here in California the primary causes are groundwater pumping and the decomposition of wetland soils after conversion to farmland. Groundwater extractions that deplete or “drain” confined aquifer systems can cause the sediments to compact and the land surface to sink (or subside).

Extensive groundwater withdrawals from aquifer systems have caused land subsidence in many California basins. Land subsidence can damage structures such as wells, buildings, and highways.

Explore land subsidence at the California Water Library

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Hydrological Region