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USGS - science for a changing world

Areas of Land Subsidence in California

In California, large areas of land subsidence were first documented by USGS scientists in the first half of the 20th century. Most of this subsidence was a result of excessive groundwater pumping. Completion of California's State and Federal water projects that bring water from California's wet north to its dry south allowed some groundwater aquifers to recover, and subsidence decreased in these areas. However, subsidence continues today, sometimes at nearly historically high rates of more than 1 foot/year (ft/yr). The map below illustrates areas of recorded subsidence—historical and current—across California.