In the states of Arizona, Utah, California and Texas, which belong to the southwestern United States, the appearance of large cracks in the ground has recently been reported, radically changing and eroding the landscape in these areas.
According to a New York Times study, one of the main reasons these giant cracks appear is the indiscriminate extraction of groundwater, which depletes the country’s aquifers and causes the land to give way and swallow up roads. Sidewalks and other urban structures such as pipes and drains.
As the American media points out, pumping water can cause the land overlying an aquifer to sink and the space created by the pumped water to collapse.
According to the United States Geological Survey, this subsidence process occurs throughout the country and is due to more than 80% of groundwater use. The agency says this sinking affected more than 120,000 square kilometers of land and waters across the country.
When too much groundwater is pumped below the surface from natural aquifers, the ground sinks and these cracks form, Joseph Cook, a land fissure researcher with the Arizona Geological Survey, told Business Insider.
The cracks “do not occur naturally, but are something we caused,” the researcher said.
Groundwater is one of the primary sources of fresh water on Earth, Business Insider reports. They provide nearly half of the world’s drinking water and about 40% of irrigation, but humans appear to be pumping out groundwater faster than the earth can replenish it naturally.
The Times study, which analyzed water levels at more than 10,000 water sources, revealed a crisis that threatens the future of Americans. Almost half of deposits have declined significantly over the last 40 years.
Additionally, four in 10 bodies of water reached historic lows over the last decade, and even aquifers that supply about 90% of U.S. water systems are depleted to the point where they may not be able to recover.