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Causes of sinks near Tucson, Arizona, USA

January 1, 1998

 Land subsidence in the form of sinks has occurred on and near farmlands near Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, USA. The sinks occur in alluvial deposits along the flood plain of the Santa Cruz River, and have made farmlands dangerous and unsuitable for farming. More than 1700 sinks are confined to the flood plain of the Santa Cruz River and are grouped along two north-northwestward-trending bands that are approximately parallel to the river and other flood-plain drainages. An estimated 17,000 m3 of sediment have been removed in the formation of the sinks. Thirteen trenches were dug to depths of 4–6 m to characterize near-surface sediments in sink and nonsink areas. Sediments below about 2 m included a large percentage of dispersive clays in sink areas. Sediments in nonsink areas contain a large component of medium- to coarse-grained, moderately to well sorted sand that probably fills a paleochannel. Electromagnetic surveys support the association of silts and clays in sink areas that are highly electrically conductive relative to sand in nonsink areas. Sinks probably are caused by the near-surface process of subsurface erosion of dispersive sediments along pre-existing cracks in predominantly silt and clay sediments. The pre-existing cracks probably result from desiccation or tension that developed during periods of water-table decline and channel incision during the past 100 years or in earlier periods.

Publication Year 1998
Title Causes of sinks near Tucson, Arizona, USA
DOI 10.1007/s100400050158
Authors J.P. Hoffmann, D. R. Pool, A.D. Konieczki, M. C. Carpenter
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrogeology Journal
Index ID 70019805
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse