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Subsidence: How Deep Can It Go

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Subsidence: How deep can it go

The great state of California is made up of eleven geomorphic provinces. The area known as The Great Valley is popular for its own uniqueness. In the south of The Great Valley lies the San Joaquin Valley of California. The Valley is known for various amounts of agriculture production. In addition, the San Joaquin Valley is crucial in petroleum production and ground water pumping in the United Sates. The drilling that we know today has been taking place for decades. With The San Joaquin Valley producing millions of barrels of oils each year and continuous water pumping, drilling and pumping typically takes place twenty-four-seven, three hundred sixty-five days a year. The finding and extracting of petroleum oil and useable water is a multimillion dollar industry, but at what cost?

What is Subsidence

Subsidence is defined as the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land (Merriam-Webster). Across American we see subsidence occurring in over 17,000 square miles in forty-five states (water.usgs.gov). More than likely, it is hard for most people to see the occurrence of subsidence. Unlike a sinkhole, subsidence casually sinks the ground over a vast and large area.

Oil Versus Water

When oil is pumped, it is important to remember that is comes from “tiny pores within rock up to only about three miles deep in the Earth’s hugely dense crust” (Moss). Because of shallow depths, there is a lot of pressure in the dense crust, thus pushing water in to the tiny holes made from oil extracting, which keeps the ground relatively equal, preventing any serious change in the ground levels. On the opposite, water that is pumped typically dependent upon the water table, but usually lie much deeper than oil and gas. There are several issues that revolve around ground water drilling and pumping. The first issue, is that anyone can pump for ground water. As long as a person is either pumping on their own land or has authority to pump on someone else’s land, there is no restriction on ground water drilling, which leads to over pumping from so many people. As a result of this issue, is the the fact that the California’s grounds cannot account for all the emptiness being created from extracting so much ground water, especially when in a drought, there is not much water refilling the cavities created. There has to be a solution the problems than can and will result from over drilling and pumping.

Solutions to Subsidence

The first and most likely easiest way is for the State of California to establish laws that monitor and prevent ground water drilling, similar to oil drilling laws. The common welfare of the grounds should be a priority because damage cannot always be undone and patrons need to be considerate of the earth and be informed.



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