[BAY FEATURE]Bay Area Drought Watch

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Earthquakes Could Be Tied to Groundwater Pumping: Scientists

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Depleting the groundwater table could actually contribute to earthquakes, a new study suggests.

    Pumping groundwater for use by citizens and crops could be contributing to an increase in seismic activity in the Central Valley, scientists at UC Berkeley and other universities said.

    The number of small earthquakes has doubled over the past 30 years, and some earthquakes also correspond to the dry season.

    Findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature suggest that depleting the groundwater table allows the Earth's crust to spring upward, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    The reason being: water is heavy, and when it's no longer in the ground, the pressure changes. And that can lead to earthquakes, the newspaper noted.

    Water may actually keep faults "clamped together," the scientists said, and there will always be huge demand for water in the Central Valley, which produces "one-quarter" of America's food.