(NaturalNews) With about 60 percent of the state now limping through the worst categorical level of drought on record, California faces an unprecedented water crisis that, besides triggering shortages, stands to greatly influence the availability of fresh produce nationwide. And as far as its own residents and the residents of nearby states are concerned, there is an additional threat also waiting in the wings: the increased likelihood of earthquakes.
A new study published in the journal Nature raises some serious questions about the stability of California now that underground aquifers are plunging to record lows. All throughout the Central Valley, which grows most of the nation’s lettuce, almonds and other produce, more water is being pumped out of the ground than is being put back in, a phenomenon that researchers say is causing the ground to shift.
According to a team of geologists led by Colin B. Amos from Western Washington University, the subterranean landscape beneath the earth, also known as the lithosphere, is literally separating from the land on top throughout California. The California Coast Ranges, the Tehachapi Mountains, and the southern Sierra Nevada, says TakePart‘s Chris Clarke, are rising by as much as three millimeters per year, or roughly an inch every 10 years.
A series of 500 GPS recorders carefully placed throughout the Central Valley and its surrounding mountains revealed that the water table throughout the area is rapidly dwindling. This means that the 176 billion-ton water load that normally holds down the lithosphere is becoming increasingly lighter, resulting in a land separation that, historically speaking, has made the ground more prone to seismic activity.