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New Findings Account for Unstable Ground Image 1
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New Findings Account for Unstable Ground (Image 1)

July 27, 2010
Over thousands of years, the thick, muddy deposit of the Mississippi delta has compacted under its own weight, squeezing water out. As a result, the sea level has risen, covering wetlands.

Research by geoscientists shows that the land 30 to 50 feet beneath much of the Mississippi Delta has been very stable for the past 8,000 years, with low to nonexistent subsidence rates. These findings challenge the notion that subsidence, or sinking of the earth, bears much of the blame for Louisiana's coastal geology problems and suggesting instead that compaction of the shallowest and most recently formed delta sediments is the main cause of subsidence in that area. These findings could have major implications for rebuilding plans that are currently being debated and over the long term, comprehensive understanding of subsidence will better support rational coastal management and successful urban and land-use planning for all low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast.


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