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Subsidence

Effects Of Subsidence

Whether caused by natural or human activities, subsidence often has a number of serious consequences for human societies. Probably the most dramatic, of course, is the disappearance of whole sections of land, as occurred in Alaska's Good Friday earthquake. Today, the sudden appearance of sinkholes in Florida is no longer unusual news. In many cases, these sinkholes appear because the removal of groundwater has left limestone caves that are unable to support the land overlying them.

Even relatively modest subsidence can also damage a variety of human structures. Buildings are weakened and collapse, railway lines and roads are twisted and broken, and underground sewer, power, and water lines are torn apart. Due to its ability to destroy property on a large scale, subsidence is a very expensive type of mass wasting that also poses some risk to human lives.

Resources

Books

Erickson, Jon. Quakes, Eruptions, and Other Geologic Cataclysms. New York: Facts on File, 1994.


David E. Newton

KEY TERMS

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Aquifer

—A formation of soil or rock that holds water underground.

Karst topography

—A region in which numerous caves, sinkholes, and other formations resulting from the dissolving of underground limestone rock are apparent.

Liquefaction (of rocks)

—The process by which changes in pressure cause a rocky material that was originally strong and stable to change into a liquid-like material.

Temperature inversion

—A situation in which a layer of cool air is trapped beneath a layer of warmer, less dense air.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Stomium to SwiftsSubsidence - Atmospheric Subsidence, Geologic Subsidence, Human Causes Of Subsidence, Effects Of Subsidence