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September 27, 2013

Earth Report

Venice’s Gradual Sinking Charted by Satellites

Venice, the “floating city” of romance and gondolas, is slowly sinking into its watery foundations.

A new study using modern satellite data has shown the amount that Venice is sinking with an unprecedented level of resolution, allowing scientists to tease apart the influence of natural causes of the sinking, due to compaction of the sediments on which the city is built, versus man-made ones, such as building restoration.

Understanding how the land is sinking is particularly important in the face of rising sea levels. “Venice is in a situation so critical with respect to the sea that continuous monitoring of the city’s movement is of paramount importance,” said study researcher Pietro Teatini, a hydraulic engineer at the University of Padua in Italy.

Scientists first recognized the problem decades ago when they noticed that pumping of groundwater from beneath Venice was causing the city to…

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