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New Orleans sinking faster than thought

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, May 31, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    WASHINGTON - Everyone has known New Orleans is a sinking city. Now new research suggests parts of the city are sinking even faster than many scientists imagined — more than an inch a year.

    That may explain some of the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina and it raises more worries about the future.

    The research, reported in the journal Nature, is based on new satellite radar data for the three years before Katrina struck in 2005. The data show that some areas are sinking four or five times faster than the rest of the city. And that, experts say, can be deadly.

    "My concern is the very low-lying areas," said lead author Tim Dixon, a University of Miami geophysicist. "I think those areas are death traps. I don't think those areas should be rebuilt."

    The blame for this phenomenon, called subsidence, includes overdevelopment, drainage and natural seismic shifts.

    For years, scientists figured the city on average was sinking about one-fifth of an inch a year based on 100 measurements of the region, Dixon said. The new data from 150,000 measurements taken from space finds that about 10 percent to 20 percent of the region had yearly subsidence in the inch-a-year range, he said.

    As the ground in those areas sinks, protection from levees also falls, scientists and engineers said.

    For example, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, built more than three decades ago, has sunk by more than 3 feet since its construction, Dixon said, explaining why water poured over the levee and part of it failed.

    "The people in St. Bernard got wiped out because the levee was too low," said co-author Roy Dokka, director of the Louisiana Spatial Center at Louisiana State University. "It's as simple as that."

    The subsidence "is making the land more vulnerable; it's also screwed up our ability to figure out where the land is," Dokka said. And it means some evacuation roads, hospitals and shelters are further below sea level than emergency planners thought.

    So when government officials talk of rebuilding levees to pre-Katrina levels, it may really still be several feet below what's needed, Dokka and others say.

    "Levees that are subsiding at a high rate are prone to failure," Dixon said.

    The federal government, especially the Army Corps of Engineers, hasn't taken the dramatic sinking into account in rebuilding plans, said University of Berkeley engineering professor BOB Bea, part of an independent National Academy of Sciences-Berkeley team that analyzed the levee failures during Katrina.

    "You have to change how you provide short- and long-term protection," said Bea, a former engineer in New Orleans. He said plans for concrete walls don't make sense because they sink and can't be easily added onto. In California, engineers are experimenting with lighter weight, reinforced foam-middle levee walls, he said.

    Dixon and his co-author Dokka disagree on the major causes of New Orleans' not-so-slow fall into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Dixon blames overdevelopment and drainage of marshlands, saying "all the problems are man-made; before people settled there in the 1700s, this area was at sea level."

    But Dokka said much of the sinking is due to natural seismic shifts that have little to do with construction.

    Dokka also thinks all is not completely lost. Smarter construction can buy New Orleans some time.

    "We've made the pact with the devil by moving down here," he said. "If we do things right, we probably can get another 100-200-300 years out of this area."

    The Army Corps of Engineers is adding extra height to earthen levees to compensate for sinking and is setting benchmark measurements of all levees for regular monitoring of how much they sink, corps spokesman Gene Pawlik said.

    "It's something post-Katrina, we're much more focused on," Pawlik said Wednesday. "It's certainly an engineering challenge."
  2. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    Great! Lets rebuild that cesspool "just because we can". Why not keep the french quareter and close surroundings and have the government buy all the land so that it can never be rebuilt upon? That sounds much smarter to me.
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Just save Pat O'Brien's. Actually the French Quarter and the CBD (Central Business District) are all on high ground already. Just condemn the rest.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Why on earth have the dot gov buy it? The quirky folks that own the land took the risk. If they want to rebuild, let them put up the pilings and stilts with the insurance money. Uv cuss, if they didn't have insurance, they took the risk. Either way, no never mind to me. I do NOT want to hear that they didn't know, caveat emptor still rules. ;)
  5. stimpy117

    stimpy117 Monkey+++

    Yeah, let's just throw money at it.

    So why do I have to pay for this crap? :dunno:
  6. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    The problem is we all pay to rebuild these homes in our home insurance rates nationwide. The insurance companies could simply say they no longer insure homes in areas like this and have the same affect as the .gov purchasing the land. Since the federal government has had to write billions of dollars worth of checks to clean-up the city, I would simply assume for a little more they could condemn the whole damn city.
  7. Galactus

    Galactus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    New Orleans is not sinking fast enough. It is a soured, rotten, bowl of squaller so caught up in itself to see how bad off they really are.
  8. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I say we pipe all of our sewage there, give Nagin the chocolate city he so desperately wants.
  9. Galactus

    Galactus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    It is already full of shit, do they really need more pumped in?
  10. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The raw sewage pumped in would make the city smell better so not to offend the rest of the country. [camo]
  11. Galactus

    Galactus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    There is only one state that could generate enough fecal matter to do the job. Care to wager a guess E.L.?
  12. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

  13. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    State= kalifornia

    District= Columbia, as in Washington D.C. I think we are going to have to round up a bunch of pipe.
  14. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    [beer] [beer] [LMAO] [LMAO] [LMAO] [LMAO]
  15. Galactus

    Galactus Monkey+++ Founding Member

  16. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    :lol: [LMAO]
  17. Galactus

    Galactus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I do believe Ghrit opened his mouth and inserted...Nevermind.

    Just playing, please don't take me funning with you too hard.[boozingbuddies]
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    :lol: Do I detect a non winning spelling bee contestant? (j/k, uv cuss.) [peep]
  19. magnus392

    magnus392 Field Marshall Mags Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Word play is fun isn't it?
  20. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

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