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Gulf Coast Subsidence, Part 2

Is the Texas Gulf Coast slowly sinking? That question follows a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that found the Louisiana Coast is subsiding at a faster rate than expected. A local geologist says we don’t know the complete answer. Last Monday morning geologist Arthur Berman, the director of www.petroleumreports.com, and editor of […]

Is the Texas Gulf Coast slowly sinking? That question follows a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that found the Louisiana Coast is subsiding at a faster rate than expected. A local geologist says we don’t know the complete answer.

Last Monday morning geologist Arthur Berman, the director of www.petroleumreports.com, and editor of the Houston geological society bulletin, said coastal Texas and Louisiana sit in a geological basin and by definition basins subside. While pumping ground water and oil and gas can cause subsidence locally, stopping the pumping isn’t, according to berman, going to stop subsidence in the basin. He says the only way to know how much an area is subsiding is to do the measurements. Berman says that was done in Louisiana. It’s the work that was part of the NOAA study.

Berman says if the loop is made successfully you know the real elevations. This is an expensive process at more than a thousand dollars a mile, but Berman says it’s the only way to get the correct information.

The question remains, is subsidence something we should be concerned about? Berman says yes it is. He says there is an official benchmark near the Ikea store off the Katy freeway just west of the loop that indicates that area is sinking at about half an inch a year.

Subsidence is also a planning issue. Should building permits be issued in areas that are more likely than others to subside? There are many fault lines running through the area and Berman says you can see the damage that can occur when the ground above a fault is developed. The long point fault is visible east of Gessner and north of the Katy freeway.

The bottom line says Berman is that subsidence is like a hurricane, a natural phenomenon that you can not stop, but if you know enough about it you can develop strategies to deal with its affects.

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