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Oct 10 / Dave Schumaker

Flooding Amazon Causes Subsidence

Flooding in the Amazon River (Source: mbarron.net)Researchers from Ohio State University have detected the amount of subsidence that occurs when the Amazon River floods every year. Using a GPS receiver placed in the Amazon Basin, Michael Bevis was able to detect changes of up to 3 inches in the ground elevation as flood waters covered parts of the basin and then disappeared.

With colleagues in the United States and Brazil, Bevis and Alsdorf merged the water model and the GPS data to show that between 1995 and 2003 the bedrock around Manaus rose and fell in a regular pattern that coincided with the basin’s annual flood. The bedrock sank slowly as the floodwaters gathered, then rose back up as the waters receded. The average change in height was about three inches.

Alsdorf was quick to point out caveats of the study. The researchers have data for only one GPS station, and the “bathtub model” is greatly simplified compared to the natural variability in water level throughout the Amazon. What’s more, scientists aren’t exactly sure of the composition of the bedrock beneath the basin.

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