The major cities that are quickly sinking

A number of major cities are said to be sinking. Among them is the Indonesian capital of Jakarta — a city of 9.6 million people that, according to the BBC, has sunk 2.5 metres over the past decade.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday the country’s capital will move from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to a site in sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo, known for its rainforests and orangutangs.

The president added that intense studies carried out over the past three years had led to officials choosing the eastern side of Borneo as the right location for the new capital.

A general view of Jakarta, Indonesia. The president proposed to set up the new capital city in Borneo as Jakarta struggles with bad traffic and pollution. It's also sinking.
Indonesia's president has discussed moving the country's capital from Jakarta (pictured). Source: AAP

“We couldn’t continue to allow the burden on Jakarta and Java island to increase in terms of population density,” Mr Widodo said at a news conference in the presidential palace.

“Economic disparities between Java and elsewhere would also increase.”


A study by the US Geological Survey found Houston has been “adversely” affected by land subsidence “possibly more than any other metropolitan area in the United States”.

“In this low-lying coastal environment, as much as 10 feet (3m) of subsidence has shifted the position of the coastline and changed the distribution of wetlands and aquatic vegetation,” the study reads.

Houston is believed to be sinking by more than 5cm each year.

The suburb of Spring Branch has sunk 1.2m since 1975 while Jersey Village is more than half a metre lower than it was in 1996.


China’s capital of Beijing is sinking 11 centimetres a year, according to a study released in academic journal MDPI in May 2016.

The study cited issues with groundwater as causing the city to sink.

The photo shows an aerial view of Beijing city centre in China.
A study found Beijing is sinking 11cm each year. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

“Beijing is one of the most water-stressed cities in the world,” the report reads.

“Due to over-exploitation of groundwater, the Beijing region has been suffering from land subsidence since 1935.”

New Orleans

A study by NASA using a satellite in 2016 found New Orleans is a victim of subsidence.

The highest rates of sinking were found along the Mississippi River around major industrial areas in Norco, and in Michoud, with up to 5cm a year of sinking.

The study found parts of the city were sinking at various rates due to a combination of “natural geologic and human-induced processes”.

People pictured riding bikes in Beijing, China.
A study found Beijing's issues are caused by water stress. Source: Getty Images

With The Associated Press

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