By Keith R. Prince, Devin L. Galloway, and Stanley A. Leake, editors

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OPEN-FILE REPORT 94-532 Sacramento, California


Land subsidence, the loss of surface elevation as a result of the removal of subsurface support, affects every state in the United States. More than 17,000 mi2 of land in the United States has been lowered by the various processes that produce land subsidence with annual costs from resulting flooding and structural damage that exceed $125 million. It is estimated that an additional $400 million is spent nationwide in attempts to control subsidence. Common causes of land subsidence include the removal of oil, gas, and water from underground reservoirs; dissolution of limestone aquifers (sinkholes); underground mining activities; drainage of organic soils; and hydrocompaction (the initial wetting of dry soils). Overdrafting of aquifers is the major cause of areally extensive land subsidence, and as ground-water pumping increases, land subsidence also will increase.

Land subsidence and its effects on engineering structures have been recognized for centuries, but it was not until this century that the processes that produce land subsidence were identified and understood. In 1928, while working with field data from a test of the Dakota Sandstone aquifer, O.E. Meinzer of the U.S. Geological Survey recognized the compressibility of aquifers. Around the same time, Karl Terzaghi, a soil scientist working at Harvard University, developed the one-dimensional consolidation theory that provided a quantitative means of predicting soil compaction resulting from the drainage of compressible soils. Thus, with the recognition of the compressibility of aquifers (Meinzer), and the development of a quantitative means of predicting soil compaction as a consequence of the reduction of intergranular pore pressure (Terzaghi), the theory of aquifer-system compaction was formed.

With the widespread availability of electric power in rural areas, and the advent of the deep turbine pump, ground-water withdrawals increased dramatically throughout the country in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Along with this unprecedented increase in pumpage, substantial amounts of land subsidence were observed in several areas of the United States, most notably in Arizona, California, and Texas. Beginning in 1955, under the direction of Joseph Poland, the Geological Survey began the “Mechanics of Aquifers Project,” which focused largely on the processes that resulted in land subsidence due to the withdrawal of ground water. This research team gained international renown as they advanced the scientific understanding of aquifer mechanics and land-subsidence theory. The results of field studies by members of this research group not only verified the validity of the application of Terzaghi’s consolidation theory to compressible aquifers, but they also provided definitions, methods of quantification, and confirmation of the interrelation among hydraulic head declines, aquifer-system compaction, and land subsidence. In addition to conducting pioneering research, this group also formed a “center of expertise,” providing a focal point within the Geological Survey for the dissemination of technology and scientific understanding in aquifer mechanics. However, when the “Mechanics of Aquifers Project” was phased out in 1984, the focal point for technology transfer no longer existed.

Interest among various state and local agencies in land subsidence has persisted, and the Geological Survey has continued to participate in a broad spectrum of cooperative and Federally funded projects in aquifer mechanics and land subsidence. These projects are designed to identify and monitor areas with the potential for land subsidence, to conduct basic research in the processes that control land subsidence and the development of earth fissures, as well as to develop new quantitative tools to predict aquifer-system deformation. In 1989 an ad hoc “Aquifer Mechanics and Subsidence Interest Group” (referred to herein as the “Subsidence Interest Group”) was formed to facilitate technology transfer and to provide a forum for the exchange of information and ideas among scientists actively working in subsidence and aquifermechanics- related projects. The Subsidence Interest Group is not focused solely on land subsidence resulting from ground-water withdrawals, although this is one of the primary areas of study for many of the group’s members. Subsidence Interest Group members are also actively involved in studies of subsidence due to sinkhole collapse (karst), drainage of organic soils, geothermal development, and hydrocompaction. The group also is seeking to expand its expertise to include subsidence resulting from subsurface mining activities.

The first technical meeting of the Subsidence Interest Group was held at Phoenix, Arizona, in December 1989 and included formal presentations on the history of land subsidence studies as well as ongoing studies being done by the Geological Survey. As a result of this initial meeting, several new collaborative research efforts were begun. The second meeting of the group was held at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in November 1992, and included technical presentations of ongoing research and a field trip to view subsidence features and monitoring equipment installations in the surrounding Antelope Valley area. This report includes extended abstracts of the oral presentations summarizing the results of ongoing research that were given at that second meeting.

The report includes case studies of land subsidence and aquifer-system deformation resulting from karst processes, fluid withdrawal, and geothermal development. Several of the abstracts deal with various aspects of land subsidence and earth fissuring at Edwards Air Force Base that are resulting in extensive damage to runways used by military aircraft and the NASA Space Shuttle. Methods for monitoring land subsidence are described, including the application of two different techniques for using Global Positioning System technology for the rapid and accurate measurement of changes in land-surface altitude. Measurement techniques and theories describing the processes governing the formation of earth fissures are presented. Ongoing research into the development of numerical techniques for simulation and quantification of 3-dimensional aquifer-system deformation are also presented. Recently developed analytical and numerical techniques for the simulation of aquifer-system compaction due to fluid withdrawal are summarized.

The information presented in this report should help expand the scientific basis for management decisions to mitigate or control the effects of land subsidence. The papers describing the results of these studies provide an excellent cross section of ongoing research in aquifer mechanics and land subsidence and also form an assessment of the current technology and “state of the science.” The analytical and interpretive methods described in this report will be useful to scientists involved in studies of ground-water hydraulics and aquifer-system deformation.


Summary of talks, discussions, field trip, and outstanding issues

Subsidence interest group conference agenda

Extended abstracts:

Case studies-National:

Mudboils in the Tully Valley, Onondaga County, New York
William M. Kappel

Incidents and causes of land subsidence in the karst of Florida
Craig B. Hutchinson

Monitoring aquifer compaction and land subsidence due to ground-water
withdrawal in the El Paso, Texas-Juarez, Chihuahua, area
Charles E. Heywood

Land subsidence and earth-fissure hazards near Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
Herbert H. Schumann

Simulation of transient ground-water flow and land subsidence in the Picacho Basin, central Arizona
Donald R. Pool

Deformation in the Casa Diablo geothermal well field, Long Valley Caldera, eastern California
Christopher D. Farrar, Michael L. Sorey, Grant A. Marshall, James F.
Howle, and Marti E. Ikehara

Subsidence and ground fissures in the San Jacinto Basin Area, southern California
Douglas M. Morton

Land Subsidence in the Oxnard Plain of the Santa Clara-Calleguas Basin,
Ventura County, California
Randall T. Hanson

Geologic setting of East Antelope Basin, with emphasis on fissuring on Rogers Lake, Edwards Air Force Base, Mojave Desert, California
A. Wesley Ward, Gary L. Dixon, and Robert C. Jachens

Case studies-Antelope Valley, California:

Hydrogeology and land subsidence, Antelope Valley, California
Clark J. Londquist

Land subsidence and problems affecting land use at Edwards Air Force Base and vicinity, California, 1990
James C. Blodgett

Land subsidence as a resource management objective in Antelope Valley, California
Steven R. Phillips

Monitoring and measurement techniques:

Description of Global Positioning System networks surveyed in California, 1992
Marti E. Ikehara

Static Global Positioning System survey design and sources of error in subsidence investigations
Marti E. Ikehara

Kinematic Global Positioning System surveys in southern Arizona
Donald R. Pool

Deformation across and near earth fissures: measurement techniques and results
Michael C. Carpenter

Tilt and aquifer hydraulic-head changes near an earth fissure in the subsiding Mimbres Basin, New Mexico
William C. Haneberg and Robert L. Friesen

Analytical techniques:

Continuum solutions for draping and differential compaction of compressible
elastic layers-implications for the origin and growth of earth fissures
William C. Haneberg

Hydraulic forces that play a role in generating fissures at depth
Donald C. Helm

Simulation of three-dimensional granular displacement in unconsolidated aquifers
Thomas J. Burbey

Status of computer programs for simulating land subsidence with the modular
finite-difference ground-water flow model
Stanley A. Leake

The frequency dependence of aquifer-system elastic storage coefficients: implications for estimates of aquifer hydraulic properties and aquifer system compaction
Devin L. Galloway


References cited

This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Download the Report (PDF, 2.8 MB).

Document Accessibility: Adobe Systems Incorporated has information about PDFs and the visually impaired. This information provides tools to help make PDF files accessible. These tools convert Adobe PDF documents into HTML or ASCII text, which then can be read by a number of common screen-reading programs that synthesize text as audible speech. In addition, an accessible version of Acrobat Reader 5.0 for Windows (English only), which contains support for screen readers, is available. These tools and the accessible reader may be obtained free from Adobe at Adobe Access.


U.S. Department of the InteriorU.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL: http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/ofr94532
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Last modified: Friday, January 11 2013, 04:13:50 AM

Salt Production in Syracuse, New York (“The Salt City”) and the Hydrogeology of the Onondaga Creek Valley The Salt Industry, Tully Farms, N


Prepared in cooperation with Onondaga Lake Cleanup Corporation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Region 2,

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Salt Production in Syracuse, New York (“The Salt City”)

and the Hydrogeology of the Onondaga Creek Valley

The Salt Industry, Tully Farms, N

Brine from springs in and around the southern end of Onondaga Lake, from former brine wells dug

or drilled at the lakes’ edge, and from wells that tapped halite (common salt) beds near Tully, N.Y., 15

miles south of Syracuse, were used commercially from the late 1700’s through the early 1900’s for salt

production. The rapid development of this industry in tie 18th and 19th centuries led to the nicknaming

of Syracuse as “The Salt City.”

The brine originates from halite bed

Solution Salt Mining in New York, with Emphasis on Operational, Regulatory and Plugging Innovations in the Tully Valley Brine Field Kathleen F. Sanford Division of Mineral Resources New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


Solution Salt Mining in New York, 

with Emphasis on Operational, 

Regulatory and Plugging Innovations 

in the Tully Valley Brine Field 

Kathleen F. Sanford 

Division of Mineral Resources 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 

50 Wolf Road, Room 290 

Albany, New York 12233-6500 



Map of 81 corridor proposed pipeline

Map of 81 corridor proposed pipeline



ArcGIS – My Map.

Route I 81 Corridor Pipeline: proposed for Cortland, Broome, and Onondaga Counties

Do you know about the proposed new pipeline?  

The real name is“Millennium Phase-1 North-South Upstate Pipeline Connector” … but we call it the “I-81 Pipeline”.

It would affect the following towns:

ONONDAGA COUNTY: Onondaga,Otisco Lafayette.Tully

CORTLAND COUNTY: Preble, Homer, Cortlandville, Virgil, Lapeer

BROOME COUNTY: Lisle, Nanticoke, Maine, Union

Check the map to see if you live nearby…

Local Events:

Public Information Session on I81 Pipeline Joe Heath, Craig Stevens, Tues., Nov. 19th 6:30 pm at Lafayette High School, Lafayette, NY

Informational Meeting on I-81 Pipeline held Sept. 23 at Center for the Arts, Homer NY

Video Coverage

 SUNY Downtown, 9 Main St. Cortland.


We need volunteers to help fight this invasion of our communities:

Technical experts in geology, ecology, hydrology, energy policy, GIS, mapping, education, communication, social media,  PowerPoint and other presentation skills, research, writing testimony for regulatory agencies as well as people who can help inform local communities, landowners and government officials of the implications of a pipeline.  If you have concerns, there is a place for you in this endeavor!

Contact us at: gdacc.cortland@gmail.com


Additional Information Sources

Facebook Page: 

Like this new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StopThe I81Pipeline



(Excellent and comprehensive information from group fighting the Constitution Pipeline)  


Several key projects are hitting all at once: The Constitution Pipeline, the Liberty LNG Port, and the Minisink compressor station all face mid-month deadlines. These are but three of the 24 gas infrastructure projects currently planned for New York State. The LNG port alone could change the landscape for New York and the tristate area by opening up the potential for a local export facility.


Details of Northeast Gas Infrastructure Expansion Projects


Industry Announcements of the I-81 Project


Natural Resources Along the Pipeline Route



Social & Cultural Resources

Aerial photos of Pipeline Construction

Background Information on Pipelines:

What Do Pipelines Portend?

Pipelines = Fracking.  The new federal fracking guidelines include an provision for no venting or flaring of gas at drilling, so pipes have to be in place before wells are drilled.  This lays the infrastructure for expanding the extraction of methane to more communities.
Pipelines = Eminent Domain.  A taking of your land “for the public good”.   Learn about what this means.
Pipelines = Danger.  From the PHMSA Pipeline Haz. Materials and Safety Administration – last decade 5600 fires and explosions and almost 400 deaths in the US alone from ‘significant’ pipelines incidents.  This does not count leaky pipes and ‘minor’ breaks resulting in dangerous incidents.
Pipelines = Compressors  Compressor stations are required every few dozen miles, and compressor stations outgas toxic gasses continually and have proven to be more dangerous to live near than wellpads.  This 24″ (at least) line would require large compressors to push the gas through, running 24/7 and outgassing known carcinogenic volatile organics that airborne, ultimately end up in the water, soil and our food.  
We have to get on top of the convoluted and segmented permitting process, to gather a voice against the further investment in unconventional gas and oil development.  
We need all hands on deck for this.   There is work to be done so this ‘proposal’ does not become a reality. 
Learn about the permitting process, easements, ramifications of eminent domain and restrictions on landowner rights re easements.   Learn how to become involved in the process.  Learn about the history of the old pipeline along the same route, and some of the geology of the route, and meet your neighbors and friends to stop this pipeline from bringing fracked gas t

Millennium Announcement of “Open Season”  https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.millenniumpipeline.com%2Fdocuments%2FOpenSeasonAnnouncementFinal.pdf

Natural gas shipper proposes new pipeline from Binghamton to Syracuse area | syracuse.com.  5/15/13

Pipeline Brochures:  



Municipal Involvement


Gas Pipelines: What Municipalities Need to Know (Video from 2012 Ithaca meeting)

Streaming Video (Playlist):

Downloads (Media RSS Video & Audio):

iTunes (Video):

Gas Pipelines: What Municipalities Need to Know
May 17, 2012. Ithaca, NY. Free Twenty interstate natural gas pipeline systems crisscross the region from West Virginia to Maine. As gas drilling operations expand, thousands of miles of new pipelines will be needed to connect existing pipelines to gas wells. Learn the difference between gathering, transmission, and distribution lines; what agencies have jurisdiction over the various types of lines; how pipelines are permitted, regulated, and monitored; and how municipalities can prepare for an increase in pipeline networks.

Presenters: Sharon Anderson, Environmental Program Leader, Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County; Jim Austin, Environmental Certification and Compliance, State of New York Department of Public Service; Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice Northeast Regional Office; Meghan Thoreau, Planner, Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board.

Co-sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County and Tompkins County Council of Governments.

Local Governments Should Officially Intervene in FERC Process http://wp.me/pJm45-2Xk

General information on gas infrastructure

Pipelines, Compressors, Storage, Metering Stations — Siteing, Regulation, Public Input, Safety

Note: I have used this. It is clunky and clumsy but the only thing I have encountered that let me find with some precision some lines that run within 4 mi west of me between the Tenessee line and the Millenium line. This is of considerable importance because those Rights of Way will very likely become major conduits and regions where compressors will pop up. One of the lines I was able to trace as far north as Cortland before I lost interest and tracing was getting hard.   There is a glitch when trying to trace over a state line, but there is a workaround by just tracing up to the border and then doing another run starting on the other side of the border.  Stan Scobie, Binghamton, NY, 607-669-4683

Storage and Transport Infrastructure

Finger Lakes Gas Storage and Infrastructure Project.  Salt Caverns,  Watkins Glen, NY Even if no fracking occurs in NY, Inergy intends to turn our region into the gas storage and transportation hub of the Northeastern United states- the salt caverns are empty and waiting, the railways are in place, and we’re not paying enough attention to this!

Inergy: Making Marcellus Happen (Watch the video)

Inergy, LP (Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC) based in Kansas City is a pipeline and natural gas storage company with approximately 3,000 employees and annual sales of about $1.8 billion.
In 2008, Inergy purchased the U.S. Salt plant on the west side of Seneca Lake approximately 2 miles north of Watkins Glen to “build an integrated gas storage and transportation hub in the Northeast.”

Details of the Inergy proposal include:

  • Construct and operate a new underground LPG storage facility for the storage and distribution of propane and butane on a portion of a 576 acre site near the intersection of Rts. 14 and 14A in the Town of Reading.
  • Proposed storage capacity of 2.10 million barrels (88.20 million gallons)
  • Construction of a 14 acre brine pond located on a steep slope just above Seneca Lake with a capacity of 91.8 million gallons.
  • Construction of a new rail and truck LPG transfer facility consisting of:  A 6 track rail siding capable of allowing loading/unloading of 24 rail cars every 12 hours 24/7/365.  A truck loading station capable of loading 4 trucks per hour (with the possibility to expand) 24/7/365.
  • Construction also to include surface works consisting of truck and rail loading terminals, LPG storage tanks, offices and other distribution facilities and stormwater control structures.

Please refer to the “Resources” page for more detailed information on the project and its potentially devastating environmental consequences.

To stay informed please join the Gas Free Seneca Listserv.

  • Inergy CEO Statement on Making Marcellus Happen:
    Even if no fracking occurs in NY, Inergy intends to turn our region into the gas storage and transportation hub of the Northeastern United states- the salt caverns are empty and waiting, the railways are in place, and we’re not paying enough attention to this!

Eminent Domain:

Spectra Energy Watch–Property Rights Eminent Domain

  • Is a Gas Company a Utility? One of the things the Tioga County Landowners group has discussed in public meetings is the importance of making sure landowners have good pipeline leases – even if they don’t have drilling. The idea, I believe, is that by offering a way to get gas from well to major transmission line, the gas companies won’t be tempted to gain status as a utility which would allow them powers of eminent domain for the gathering lines.  Well, here’s how Chief Oil & Gas got around that little hurdle in Susquehanna County, PA – they got permission to use state highway ROW. Not a good precedent for those who would like to lease pipeline routes, and for those who want to have no pipelines across their property.
  • Report of Laser Hearings in Windsor 10-20-10

I was one of about 65 people in the auditorium of Windsor High School as officials of the Public Service Commission and Laser Northeast Gathering Company first gave their information presentations and then answered questions and listened to statements from the public.

A 5 member Commission body, under Administrative Law Judge Howard Jack, will, at some point in the future, make a determination to either deny, grant with conditions, or approve the application to construct a 16 inch pipeline capable of carrying up to 170 million cu ft of gas per day. (Asked if the pipeline was being planned to serve more than the 18 wells stated in the application, Laser reps answered with the flow volume, and admitted that it could serve hundreds of wells. At the same time they said that the wells in PA that are now producing are not producing gas at a high rate.) Because the application is for a line that is less than 10 miles in length the PSC is not required under Article VII <www.dps.state.ny.us/articlevii.htm>  to give the application its “full review”. Article VII was created in 1970 and actions under this law are not subject to SEQR (created at a later date). Neither does an Art VII certificate grant eminent domain or property rights.

We were told that Laser has been working for a year with not only the Town of Windsor but with the 1700 member Windsor Landowner Pipeline Coalition to put the pieces in place for this project. Windsor has enacted road protection and noise ordinances <http://tinyurl.com/2fc3hau>. The landowners have negotiated contracts. Laser owns the 40 acre parcel for the compressor station.

The audience asked questions about compressor station maintenance and noise, about emergency planning, odorizing the gas in the lines, depth under roads and rivers, and environmental protections during the construction phase.

I asked several questions about maintenance and gas leak monitoring. The Laser reps told me that the station will be monitored closely and that they have the capacity to “count gas molecules entering and leaving the station”. They did Not say that the incoming and outgoing volume is balanced but said instead that it is “reconciled”. And no, they have never considered using infra-red technology to look for leaks. And No, the gas “is not required to be” odorized.

There are 80 residences on the perimeter of the 40 acre parcel that will hold the compressor station. Several people asked questions about noise. The PSC standard is 40 decibels at any residence. The Windsor ordinance states: maximum noise levels  “During daytime hours: ambient noise levels plus five (5) dBA. During nighttime hours: ambient noise levels plus three (3) dBA. Additionally, until demonstrated by the applicant or by the Town, ambient noise or sound levels within the Town of Windsor shall be assumed to be 35 dBA.

Using the “Teacher’s Resource Guide” <http://tinyurl.com/c9zxdx > I find that they rate 40 decibels the noise level in a library.

I asked if compliance with the Windsor ordinance is required under the Art. VII certificate and was told that “it could be”.

During the public comment part of the evening, there were 7 presentations. Of those 7, 5 people lauded the Laser company for the wonderful job they have done in bringing this opportunity to the people of Windsor. Two people (one of them Deborah Goldberg) spoke for full review, no pipelines before SGEIS approval, cumulative impact study, and for tighter environmental protections.

If you have gotten this far in reading you understand that the landowner coalitions did a good job of getting their members out to this hearing. The company reps did their usual job of talking slick. The PSC administrators need to hear from lots more people who want a full review (this pipeline will be much more than 10 miles in length when they get any of the laterals in place).  Visit  http://tinyurl.com/2bbbzby , and scroll down to the comment section.

Pipelines are coming to your neighborhood folks! Do you want to live next to a compressor station with its attendant noise and air pollution? We need to make a larger stink than they plan to make or these things will be rubber stamped into place. Remember, they need pipelines to put the gas into before they drill. If the pipelines are here the drillers will come.

Request full review. Request infra-red monitoring and odorizing of the gas. Request environmental protections and full cumulative study.
Marie McRae
Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition.  Wednesday, July 7, 2010

  • Pa. to Corning gas line gets OK: “…Corning, N.Y. — A proposed $43 million gas pipeline from the Pennsylvania border up to Corning has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, clearing the way for construction next summer. Empire Pipeline’s new 15-mile-long, 24-inch pipeline will carry Marcellus Shale gas produced in Pennsylvania north to Corning, where it will connect with the Millennium Pipeline…The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, based in Washington, D.C., determined the project would not have a significant environmental impact. The agency’s assessment was detailed in a 119-page report sent to The Leader last week. The report is posted online at http://www.ferc.gov . Several other local, state and federal agencies were involved in the review…FERC’s approval gives Empire Pipeline the right to use eminent domain, although company officials say that’s a last resort. They have already been negotiating compensation deals with landowners. About 50 area residents attended a presentation and public hearing in Corning back in late April, but no one voiced opposition…” ” (Corning Leader) (NY & PA)- http://www.the-leader.com/topstories/x1145377423/Pa-to-Corning-gas-line-gets-OK

Accidents, Spills, Explosions of Pipelines and other Gas installations: 

Ageing Pipelines