Here We Go

[Content Note: Climate change.]

The water use that helped produce California's agricultural bounty may be increasing the chances of earthquakes along the San Andreas fault, researchers said on Wednesday.

A new study, published in Nature on Wednesday, said groundwater depletion in California's Central Valley – the heart of its agricultural industry – is putting additional pressures on the fault, and promoting the chances of an earthquake.

...The paper is among the first to attribute a human component to earthquakes along the San Andreas fault. Other researchers have established a connection between small earthquakes in Ohio and underground disposal of waste water from fracking.

...Scientists have known for years that the floor of the valley has been dropping as the groundwater is pumped out for irrigation. An estimated 160 km3 of ground water in the Central Valley has been lost through pumping, irrigation and evaporation over the past 150 years.

The rate of that depletion is accelerating, because of expanding population, increased demands for agriculture and recurring drought – which means that the groundwater can not be readily replaced.

..."The human effect is becoming the dominant effect," said Paul Lundgren of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The more you deplete that groundwater, the more you keep promoting that fault towards failure."
And the more we have accelerated climate change, the more we have been obliged to accelerate the depletion of the groundwater.


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