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Estimated land-surface subsidence in Harris County, Texas, 1915-17 to 2001

January 1, 2009

Land-surface subsidence, or land subsidence, in Harris County, Texas, which encompasses much of the Houston area, has been occurring for decades. Land subsidence has increased the frequency and extent of flooding, damaged buildings and transportation infrastructure, and caused adverse environmental effects. The primary cause of land subsidence in the Houston area is withdrawal of groundwater, although extraction of oil and gas also has contributed. Throughout most of the 20th century, groundwater was the primary source of municipal, agricultural, and industrial water supply for Harris County. Currently (2009) a transition to surface water as the primary source of supply, guided by a groundwater regulatory plan developed by the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District (2001), is in effect. The aquifers in Harris County contain an abundant amount of potable groundwater, but they also contain layers of clay. Groundwater withdrawals caused compaction of the clay layers, which in turn resulted in the widespread, substantial land-surface subsidence that has occurred in the Houston area.

Publication Year 2009
Title Estimated land-surface subsidence in Harris County, Texas, 1915-17 to 2001
DOI 10.3133/sim3097
Authors Mark C. Kasmarek, Robert K. Gabrysch, Michaela R. Johnson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Map
Series Number 3097
Index ID sim3097
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Texas Water Science Center