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Architects Fear New York May Sink Due to its Massive Skyscraper Weights

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By Erika John - - 5 Mins Read
An overhead shot of New York city showing skyscrapers and high-rise buildings
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According to some scientific researchers, 1.68 trillion pounds of buildings are causing New York to sink faster than initially forecasted. These researchers stated that due to some weight variations, some city neighborhoods are sinking faster than others.


New York skyscrapers are the significant contributors to this growing problem, as the researchers made it clear that the increasing weight of these long buildings is putting so much pressure on the city's landmass.


For a long time now, New York has been known for its long skyscrapers that house many businesses and personal homes. Known as the city with the most millionaires, New York is the primary center of economic activity in the United States and the world. However, new research cited by the New York Post shows that the city might be sinking slowly but steadily due to the increasing burden of skyscrapers on the landmass. 


The research was conducted by three University of Rhode Island oceanologists and a researcher from the US Geological Survey. These four personalities gathered to engage in this work published in the Earth's Future Journal.


The first thing they did during their research was to calculate the total weight of buildings in New York. They discovered that the cumulative weight of New York's buildings was an estimated 1.68 trillion pounds. Then they determined the downward pressure these buildings exert below the earth under New York. Their calculation was based on the pressure exerted on the mixture of clay, sand, and slit that make up the earth under New York. 

What Did they Find 

The discovery of these researchers was shocking, to say the least. They discovered that New York was experiencing something called the "subsidence rate." Subsidence rate is a technical term used to describe a sinking situation.


They discovered that New York sank at an average rate of about one to two millimeters yearly. They also noted that the rate at which each part of New York sank was different. For instance, Lower Manhattan and particular areas of Brooklyn and Queens were sinking much faster than other parts of New York. Some parts of Lower Manhattan were just about one or two meters above sea level, which is incredibly scary. The researchers said climate change is also contributing to the decreasing sea level. 


The construction site of a high rise building
A skyscraper construction (Ben Allen via Unsplash)


Although one or two millimeters might seem very small, the scientists noted that it was enough to cause huge issues for New York. The researchers claimed that a land area sinking one or two millimeters yearly is more than enough to make it vulnerable to natural disasters like tsunamis or hurricanes. They reiterated that if an event like this should happen near most cities in New York, it could create a massive tragedy that could lead to New York building collapse. 

"The combination of tectonic and anthropogenic subsidence, sea level rise, and increasing hurricane intensity imply an accelerating problem along coastal and riverfront areas," the paper States. Repeated exposure of building foundations to salt water can corrode reinforcing steel and chemically weaken concrete, causing structural weakening," the research paper said.