Long linear tension cracks associated with declining groundwater levels at four sites in subsiding areas in south-central Arizona, Fremont Valley, California, and Las Vegas Valley, Nevada, occur near points of maximum convex-upward curvature in subsidence profiles oriented perpendicular to the cracks. Profiles are based on repeated precise vertical control surveys of lines of closely spaced bench marks. Association of these fissures with zones of localized differential subsidence indicates that linear earth fissures are caused by horizontal tensile strains probably resulting from localized differential compaction. Horizontal tensile strains across the fissures at the point of maximum convex-upward curvature, ranging from approximately 100 to 700 microstrains (0.01 to 0.07% per year), were indicated based on measurements with a tape or electronic distance meter.
Additional publication details
Earth fissures and localized differential subsidence.