San Fran Sink

San Francisco Is Sinking Into the Earth, Scientists Say

So long, San Francisco?

11. 27. 21 by Abby Lee Hood
Getty / Futurism
Image by Getty / Futurism

A US Geological Survey research geophysicist named Tom Parsons says that San Francisco is sinking into the Earth.

NBC Bay Area reports that Parsons examined every single building in the Bay Area, using satellite images captured by European Space Agency’s Sentinel 1 satellite.

Most of the settling appears to be taking place downtown, because of the staggering weight and density of the buildings.

Ominously, at least one is also tilting. According to The Weather Channel, Millennium Tower earned its nickname of the “Leaning Tower of San Francisco” because of how much it’s tilted each year since its opening in 2009, and NBC says it’s only the third heaviest building in the city at an estimated 686 million pounds. In 2018, a large new crack had been found in the building after residents heard a loud noise.


Experts say many problems may be causing the city to sink, including the loss of groundwater because of new construction and that the Millennium’s foundation isn’t rooted in bedrock.

Concerningly, Parsons told NBC the combined weight of all the downtown buildings is enough to affect an earthquake fault, though luckily the famous San Andreas fault runs offshore before it reaches the city.

And, of course, it all connects to climate change.

“If you have all of this going on when you’re right near the waterline, in some cases in San Francisco, then you have to worry about big storms that sea level comes up and inundation more frequently,” Parsons told NBC.


Parsons also says he’ll be studying Manhattan next, according to NBC, to further study the effects of sinking on coastal cities in light of rising sea levels.

More on the environment: How to Talk to Your Family About Climate Change

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