Washington, D.C. is literally sinking into the Earth

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According to a new study from researchers at the University of Vermont, our nation's capital is sinking. Physically, not metaphorically.

The study's researchers explains that D.C. residents could see their city drop by about six inches over the next 100 years because the land below the Chesapeake Bay is already falling. According to the scientists, this one isn't actually our fault—the shift is part of a geological process tens of thousands of years in the making. From the release:

Washington's woes come from what geologists call 'forebulge collapse.' During the last ice age, a mile-high North American ice sheet, that stretched as far south as Long Island, N.Y., piled so much weight on the Earth that underlying mantle rock flowed slowly outward, away from the ice. In response, the land surface to the south, under the Chesapeake Bay region, bulged up. Then, about 20,000 years ago, the ice sheet began melting away, allowing the forebulge to sink again.


"It’s a bit like sitting on one side of a water bed filled with very thick honey,” lead author Ben DeJeong explained. The research was published Monday in the journal GSA Today.

This is not the first time that scientists have sounded the alarm over a sinking Washington, but the UVM researchers offer new, more detailed proof. Now no Washington is safe.


Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.