Parts of Jersey Village have been subsiding by about 2 inches a year, according to 2 UH professors and a former grad student who’ve been studying a decade’s worth of GPS data from 2 dozen area measurement points. Associate professor of geology Shuhab Khan, geology professor Kevin Burke, and former Ph.D. student Richard Engelkemeir note there’s been gradual subsidence in a “sprawling” 324-square-mile area of northwestern Harris County, but Jersey Village is the fastest to fall.
Just what is it that makes this little community so down-to-earth? Reports Khan:
The most likely reason for the sinking of Jersey Village is the withdrawal of water from deep beneath the surface. While groundwater withdrawal has ceased in most of the Houston area, it continues in the northwestern part of the county that has seen a rapid growth in population.
Continued subsidence, of course, will also help the entire northwest Houston area collect more water when it rains. But it isn’t all downhill for Houston.
The data also show an area along the coast southeast of Houston has actually been rising over the same period. The likely culprit there: salt domes under the surface. Khan says he hopes further research will connect salt-dome movement along the coast to surface movements in other areas of the region. Two years ago Khan, Burke, and Engelkemeir published a map identifying the precise locations of approximately 300 faults in the Houston area.