Land Subsidence in California

Affected Areas

The USGS has conducted subsidence studies in California since the 1950s. Today, subsidence studies carried out by the USGS California Water Science Center integrate a suite of space-based (for example, InSAR, GPS) and ground-based (for example, extensometers) high-frequency measurements by using statistical and simulation modeling techniques. This produces high-quality scientific information about subsidence status and trends. Results of USGS Land Subsidence Studies help California water managers assess and track the state of water resources in their area and across the State. It also helps them assess the effectiveness of management strategies aimed at achieving sustainable groundwater and surface-water management goals.

Areas of Land Subsidence in California

Areas of Land Subsidence in California

Explore an interactive USGS map to learn more about areas in California affected by subsidence.

Explore Subsidence

Filter Total Items: 10
Date published: January 30, 2019
Status: Completed

Cuyama Valley Water Availability Study

Currently, groundwater is the only source for domestic, agricultural and municipal water use in the Cuyama Valley groundwater basin in Santa Barbara County, California. Groundwater withdrawals, mainly to irrigate agricultural crops, have resulted in water-level declines of as much as 300 feet in the area since the 1940s. To plan for sustainable future use of the groundwater, the U.S....

Contacts: Claudia C Faunt
Date published: December 18, 2018
Status: Active

Water-Level, Water-Quality and Land-Subsidence Studies in the Mojave River and Morongo Groundwater Basins

Groundwater has been the primary source of domestic, agricultural, and municipal water supplies in the southwestern Mojave Desert, California, since the early 1900s. The population of the Mojave River and Morongo groundwater basins has grown rapidly during the last several decades, increasing from an estimated population of almost 273,000 in 1990 (...

Date published: December 6, 2018
Status: Completed

Land Subsidence in the Santa Clara Valley

Throughout the late 1800s and into the 1920s when two thirds of the Santa Clara Valley had been irrigated, water flowed freely from wells. Water-level declines of more than 200 ft occurred in the Santa Clara Valley from the early 1900's to the mid 1960's (Fowler, 1981). Land subsidence was first detected in 1933 (...

Contacts: Michelle Sneed
Date published: December 6, 2018
Status: Active

Subsidence in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is part of the San Francisco Estuary, home to a diverse flora and fauna, including several threatened and endangered species, has a large area of prime farmland, and serves as the hub of California's freshwater-delivery system that moves water from the wet north to the dry southern part of the State.

Date published: November 7, 2018
Status: Active

Mojave Land-Subsidence Studies

Land subsidence has been ongoing in the dry lake beds throughout the Mojave and Morongo groundwater basins since the 1960s. In a study conducted from 2004 - 2009, continuous GPS stations were added to interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) methods to measure changes in land surface altitude.

Date published: November 7, 2018
Status: Active

Land Subsidence in the Coachella Valley

Groundwater is an important water-supply source in the Coachella Valley. The demand for water has exceeded the deliveries of imported surface water, and groundwater levels have been declining as a result of increased pumping. A network of GPS stations has been set up in the valley to monitor subsidence resulting from declining groundwater levels.

Contacts: Michelle Sneed
Date published: November 6, 2018
Status: Active

Delta-Mendota Canal: Using Groundwater Modeling to Analyze Land Subsidence

A numerical modeling approach was used to quantify groundwater conditions and land subsidence spatially along the Delta-Mendota Canal. In addition, selected management alternatives for controlling land subsidence were evaluated.

Date published: November 5, 2018
Status: Completed

Delta-Mendota Canal: Evaluation of Groundwater Conditions and Land Subsidence

In areas adjacent to the Delta-Mendota Canal (DMC), extensive groundwater withdrawal from the San Joaquin Valley aquifer system has caused areas of the ground to sink as much as 10 feet, a process known as land subsidence. This could...

Date published: November 5, 2018
Status: Completed

Land Subsidence Along the California Aqueduct

Subsidence is a global problem and, in the United States, more than 17,000 square miles in 45 States, an area roughly the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, have been directly affected by subsidence. More than 80 percent of the identified subsidence in the United States is a consequence of human impact on subsurface water.

Contacts: Michelle Sneed
Date published: October 17, 2018
Status: Active

Land Subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the nation. Beginning around the 1920's, farmers relied upon groundwater for water supply. Over time, overpumping caused groundwater-level declines and associated aquifer-system compaction and land subsidence that resulted in permanent aquifer-system storage loss.

Contacts: Michelle Sneed