Estimated land-surface subsidence in Harris County, Texas, 1915-17 to 2001

Scientific Investigations Map 3097
Prepared in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District
By: , and 



Land-surface subsidence, or land subsidence, in Harris County, Texas, which encompasses much of the Houston area, has been occurring for decades. Land subsidence has increased the frequency and extent of flooding, damaged buildings and transportation infrastructure, and caused adverse environmental effects. The primary cause of land subsidence in the Houston area is withdrawal of groundwater, although extraction of oil and gas also has contributed. Throughout most of the 20th century, groundwater was the primary source of municipal, agricultural, and industrial water supply for Harris County. Currently (2009) a transition to surface water as the primary source of supply, guided by a groundwater regulatory plan developed by the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District (2001), is in effect. The aquifers in Harris County contain an abundant amount of potable groundwater, but they also contain layers of clay. Groundwater withdrawals caused compaction of the clay layers, which in turn resulted in the widespread, substantial land-surface subsidence that has occurred in the Houston area.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Estimated land-surface subsidence in Harris County, Texas, 1915-17 to 2001
Series title Scientific Investigations Map
Series number 3097
ISBN 9781411326279
DOI 10.3133/sim3097
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description 2 Sheets: 30 x 24 inches; Downloads Directory
Time Range Start 1915-01-01
Time Range End 2001-12-31
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details