Land Under Shanghai, 50+ Other Cities Sinking

Unsettling eight-metre cracks in the pavement around Shanghai Tower are the latest reminder of the city’s subsidence problem. While the tower’s planners insist that everything is under control, Caixin points out that sinking ground is a serious problem across China, yet another facet of the country’s chronic water problem:

… China’s Ministry of Land and Resources recently reported that the ground is sinking under more than 50 cities. The culprit is the overuse of groundwater, the ministry’s Geological Environment Department Deputy Director Tao Qingfa told Caixin.

When residents consume too much groundwater, water pressure underground depletes and causes the soil to shift and sink, Tao said. Beijing, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Xi’an are all sinking in certain places as a result, he said ….

Shanghai’s soil has been sinking as early as 1921. In 1965, the city sunk by 11 centimeters. Beijing is also at risk with 2,815 square meters sinking having sunk by more than 100 millimeters in recent years. In 2009, a 1.85-centimeter ditch suddenly appeared near Beijing’s Chang’an Street.

Subsidence is far from the only problem facing Shanghai’s buildings. The city has restricted the use of glass exterior walls in future construction projects following a plague of accidents, while other threats include redevelopment and tumbling space debris.

February 25, 2012 10:03 PM
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Categories: Economy, Environment