Land Subsidence and Earth Fissuring in Central Arizona

by Lewis E. Scott, Sr. Geological Engr.; Highways Div., Arizona Dept. of Transportation, Material Services, 1745 West Madison Street, Phoenix, Ariz. 85007,

Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 2, Pg. 119-125

Document Type: Journal Paper


Land subsidence and earth fissures in central Arizona are geologic hazards being monitored by aerial photography. Ground-water level declines of 200ft - 400ft (61m - 122m) in the past 30 yr have caused subsidence of 2ft - 12ft (0.6m - 3.7m) in several areas totaling hundreds of square miles. Earth fissures—tensional cracks—appear near the margins of these areas. Subsidence is continuing in these areas and appearing in others. The number of fissures mapped is also increasing. Both subsidence and fissures, once confined to the rural agricultural areas, are now found in suburban and even urban locations. Both have affected highways, railroads, and pipelines.

Subject Headings: Land subsidence | Cracking | Geology | Aerial photography | Groundwater depletion | Mapping | Rural areas | Agriculture | Arizona | United States

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