Core Samples, Laser Imagery Chart A Sinking Washington, D.C.

By on August 10, 2015

Washington, D.C. (Credit: Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway / U.S. Air Force)

Using core samples from the ground and laser imagery taken from the sky, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Vermont have charted land movements on the eastern seaboard that are causing Washington, D.C., to slowly sink, according to Vice News. Their data set captures more than 20,000 years of the land’s shifting.

Data show that the end of glacial activity in the region left it rising for many years. But now that rebounding effect is no longer holding and the land is starting to subside. The subsidence can be seen as far southward as North Carolina, scientists say.

In addition to helping D.C. city planners and others managing cities nearer the Atlantic coastline, researchers note their findings serve as a solid benchmark for sea-level rise. They hope the results can, at very least, be used as baseline values that estimates of rising seas can be stacked against.

Full results of the investigation are published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin.

Top image: Washington, D.C. (Credit: Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway / U.S. Air Force)

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