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Earth Science

Humans Causing California's Mountains To Grow 36

New submitter Megan Sever writes: "This is a cool story about anthropogenic effects of water withdrawal moving mountains — literally. According to new research published today (abstract) and reported in EARTH Magazine, humans have been causing the Sierra Nevada mountains to rise. By withdrawing water for irrigation and other purposes, we have inadvertently removed water from the mountains, allowing them to uplift. The research shows a seasonal and annual cycle."
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Humans Causing California's Mountains To Grow

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  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:36PM (#47003725) Journal

    I thought Grand Tetons only swelled when you add liquid to them.

  • Bah, we've been building "mountains" for quite a while already.

    • Bah, we've been building "mountains" for quite a while already.

      Yes, but no one is talking about the looming molehill shortage!

  • Is that a mountain in your pants or are you just happy to see us humans?

  • Maybe faith is just lack of water.

    I can see it, I guess... you'd have to have a pretty strong faith to think you could live very long without water, after all.

  • Bring it on in the Sierras!

  • Can you say population control, Hmmm, lets start with the people who conduct these studies...
    • Can you say population control, Hmmm, lets start with the people who conduct these studies...

      With and attitude like that we certainly are doomed.

  • Like isostasy (Score:4, Informative)

    by PeterM from Berkeley ( 15510 ) <petermardahl@yahMOSCOWoo.com minus city> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:30PM (#47004781) Journal

    This reminds me of isostasy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isostasy/ [wikipedia.org] --as mountains erode, they rise again due to the buoyancy of the rock underneath them floating upon the magma below.

    Pull out the mass of the water, and up go the mountains.


  • Now watch all the powers that be in California to strive to attract ever more businesses and new residents to California thus insuring that their tribulations and disasters will grow ever more frequent and vicious in effects. And make note that no political figure will sound off about stopping building permits and asking businesses to leave California. No matter how awful it gets the traditional machine will just keep trying to do the same old, wrong, thing.
    • What disasters? The occasional earth quake about once a century and wild fires seems to be the extent of it in CA.

      But you are correct, they will not ask businesses or people to leave. They may regulate them out of the state but with an eight percent corporate tax, they will likely stick around for a while. California sort of needs them in order to pay for the wild spending they like to do. It's sort of like the government is at a keg party buying pizza for everyone/.

  • Californication; the clues are in the song.
    That's just swell.

  • Every slashdotter knows no amount of human activity can have any effect whatsoever on the environment around us! That's we rape and pillage every speck of nature around us, it's the truth and beauty of Keynesian economics!
  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday May 15, 2014 @03:35AM (#47006861)
    Historically, the Salon Sea in inland Southern California has long term wet and dry periods. When it is filled with water there tend to be earthquakes in the region of the San Andreas Fault that run through the Salton Sea area. When it is dry there tends to be a much longer period between major quake in this part of the fault.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Sea#Earthquake_geology [wikipedia.org]

    The Salton Sea and surrounding basin sits over the San Andreas Fault, San Jacinto Fault, Imperial Fault Zone, and a "stepover fault" shear zone system. Geologists have determined that previous flooding episodes from the Colorado River have been linked to earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault. Sonar and other instruments were used to map the Salton Sea's underwater faults during the study. During the period when the basin was filled by Lake Cahuilla, a much larger inland sea, earthquakes higher than magnitude 7 occurred roughly every 180 years, the last one occurring within decades of the year 1700. Computer models suggest the normal faults in the area are most vulnerable to deviatoric stress loading by filling in of water. Currently, a risk still exists for an earthquake of magnitude 7 or 8. Simulations also showed, in the Los Angeles area, shaking and thus damage would be more severe for a San Andreas earthquake that propagated along the fault from the south, rather than from the north. Such an earthquake also raises the risk for soil liquefaction in the Imperial Valley region.

    After the last flood from the Colorado River into the Salton Sea after 1900, a series of dams were built to keep the river from flowing into California. Since then there are been no really large magnitude earthquakes from the San Andreas in Southern California.

    It seems extremely likely that human activity has altered the earthquake pattern. This means it is possible that removing large amounts of ground water from the San Joaquin Valley could measurably effect the height of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell