Investigation of Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah

By: Tyler Knudsen, Paul Inkenbrandt, William Lund, Mike Lowe, and Steve Bowman

This 116-page report presents the results of an investigation by the Utah Geological Survey of land subsidence and earth fissures in Cedar Valley, Iron County, Utah. Basin-fill sediments of the Cedar Valley Aquifer contain a high percentage of fine-grained material susceptible to compaction upon dewatering. Groundwater discharge in excess of recharge (groundwater mining) has lowered the potentiometric surface in Cedar Valley as much as 114 feet since 1939. Groundwater mining has caused permanent compaction of fine-grained sediments of the Cedar Valley aquifer, which has caused the land surface to subside, and a minimum of 8.3 miles of earth fissures to form. Recently acquired interferometric synthetic aperture radar imagery shows that land subsidence has affected approximately 100 mi² in Cedar Valley, but a lack of accurate historical benchmark elevation data over much of the valley prevents its detailed quantification. Continued groundwater mining and resultant subsidence will likely cause existing fissures to lengthen and new fissures to form which may eventually impact developed areas in Cedar Valley. This report also includes possible aquifer management options to help mitigate subsidence and fissure formation, and recommended guidelines for conducting subsidence-related hazard investigations prior to development.

Although this product represents the work of professional scientists, the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Utah Geological Survey, makes no warranty, expressed or implied, regarding its suitability for a particular use. The Utah department of Natural Resources, Utah Geological Survey, shall not be liable under any circumstances for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages with respect to claims by users of this product.