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New York Sinking

May 18, 2023

It certainly seems to make sense even to non-experts; the weight of New York City’s buildings is causing it to sink lower into surrounding waterways. 

New geological research warns that the weight of New York City’s skyscrapers is actually causing the Big Apple — whose more than 1 million buildings weigh nearly 1.7 trillion pounds — to sink lower into its surrounding bodies of water, according to the New York Post.

“The city is plopping closer to the water at a rate of 1 to 2 millimeters a year, with some areas subsiding much faster…While that may not seem significant to untrained eyes, the gradual descent makes NYC extremely vulnerable to natural disasters,” according to lead researcher and geologist Tom Parsons of the United States Geological Survey, as reported in the article. 

“The combination of tectonic and anthropogenic subsidence, sea level rise, and increasing hurricane intensity imply an accelerating problem along coastal and riverfront areas,” Parsons wrote. “Repeated exposure of building foundations to salt water can corrode reinforcing steel and chemically weaken concrete causing structural weakening.”

“New York is emblematic of growing coastal cities all over the world that are observed to be subsiding, meaning there is a shared global challenge of mitigation against a growing inundation hazard,” according to the article. 

David Harrison