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Geophysicist: Weight of Harvey rains caused Houston to sink

Wilford Martinez, right, is rescued from his flooded car by Harris County Sheriff's Department Richard Wagner along Interstate 610 in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. Wilford Martinez, right, is rescued from his flooded car by Harris County Sheriff's Department Richard Wagner along Interstate 610 in floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. | Photo: AP Photo / David J. Phillip.

September 08, 2017 09:10 AM

HOUSTON (AP) - A California geophysicist says the sheer weight of the torrential rains brought by Harvey has caused Houston to sink by 2 centimeters.
    
Chris Milliner, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, says water weighs about a ton per cubic meter and the flooding was so widespread that it "flexed Earth's crust."
    
He told the Houston Chronicle that he used observations from the Nevada Geodetic Laboratory and other statistics to measure the drop.
    
Milliner says it will only be temporary. Once the floodwaters recede, there will be an "opposite elastic response of the crust," similar to jumping on a mattress.
    
He refers to the phenomenon as local elastic subsidence and says it's found in other places that experience significant seasonal changes in water or ice.
    
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