Has Venice stopped sinking?

The frequency of floods is increasing, according to scientists. Image: Shutterstock

New research suggests it hasn’t.

New measurements from the University of California, San Diego, have indicated that the city is still slowly sinking. According to researcher Yehuda Bock, it is subsiding approximately two millimetres every year.

This subsidence was recognised as a major issue decades ago, causing the city’s officials to put a stop to groundwater pumping. But the subsidence is also a result of plate tectonics, which is causing the city and the surrounding area to drop slightly in elevation.

If we also consider that the sea levels are rising two millimetres per year in the lagoon, this doubles the rate at which the heights of the surrounding waters are increasing relative to the city’s elevation. So if Venice keeps subsiding at the same rate over the next 20 years, the researchers estimate that the land will actually sink 80 millimetres.

Surrounding patches of land (the islands) are also sinking, with the northern islands subsiding two to three millimetres per year and the southern islands three to four. The area is also tilting slightly to the east, so the western part (where the city is located) is actually slightly higher.


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