NATURAL EVENTS

Skyscrapers weigh too much: New York is sinking deeper and deeper

A prestigious American university conducted an in-depth study that showed how New York, and specifically the island of Manhattan, is sinking into the ground at a rate of about 1-2 millimetres every year.

The entire area was completely mapped by comparing satellite data with subsurface geology models. In the long term, this geological trend could increase the risk of flooding caused by rising river levels.

The city's subsoil is in fact mostly made up of sand, silt, clay sediments and rock outcrops, and the enormous weight of the buildings is starting to become a problem.

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Skyscrapers weigh too much: New York is sinking deeper and deeper
A prestigious American university conducted an in-depth study that showed that New York, and specifically the island of Manhattan, is sinking into the ground at a rate of about 1-2 millimetres every year.
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The study
The study is published in the journal 'Earth's Future' by a team of experts from the University of Rhode Island led by geologist Tom Parsons.
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How were the research conducted
Researchers have calculated the total weight of more than one million buildings in New York City. The total mass was found to be approximately 764 million tonnes. After that, the city was divided into a grid of squares of 100 metres per side, and the researchers converted the mass of the buildings into a downward pressure, also counting the effect of gravity. What was kept out of the equation, however, was the weight of roads, pavements, bridges and railways. Finally, this data was incorporated into the models that reproduce the very complicated geology of New York's subsoil, which consists mostly of sand, silt, clay sediments and rock outcrops.
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Research findings (pt. 1)
What has emerged is that the subsoil is very varied and reacts differently in different areas. Soils with more clay and artificial fill are more likely to cause buildings to collapse, with an average value of 294 millimetres calculated in lower Manhattan; more elastic soils are able to recover following the construction of buildings, while the harder, rocky subsoil, to which many skyscrapers are anchored, does not move as much.
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Research results (pt. 2)
Calculating all the data and looking at it as a whole, what emerged in this research is that the Big Apple is slowly sinking into the ground at the rate of about 1-2 millimetres per year, which, although it may not seem much, greatly increases the risk of natural disasters and also undermines the safety of buildings.
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Why was this research conducted
In the very words of the researchers who conducted the study, these data serve to "raise awareness of the fact that any new high-rise building constructed in coastal, river or lakefront areas could contribute to future flood risk".
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30/05/2024
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