Posted on Jun 13, 2011 in Science & nature, Travel
Is the Italian city of Venice really sinking — to such a degree that it will be underwater in the near future?
Yes, it’s true that Venice is sinking — historically, about seven centimeters each century for the past 1,000 years. But it’s not only settling into its marshy base, the grand Italian city is also falling victim to rising water levels, which are really compounding the problem.
Founded across 117 islands in a marshy lagoon during the fifth century AD, Venice was built on a foundation made out of millions of wooden pilings — sharpened poles that were driven through the mud and into the sandy clay underneath. On of the pilings, oak planking was placed, and then came layers of marble. Then on top of the marble, the city’s buildings and walkways were constructed.
As Tinkertoy-esque as that sounds, the big problem with the whole sinking thing came as the aquifers under the city were drained, and the water no longer worked as pillows to prop up Venice. (Artesian wells were banned in the 1960s to keep this from becoming an ongoing problem, but much of the damage was already done.)
The sinking of Venice, Italy, has been the subject of much study and speculation — as well as many articles, books and TV programs. So in lieu of regurgitating a lot of this material, we’re going to have you check out the source material instead.
But, before we do, one thing: If you have the chance to visit Venice, take it. It’s an amazing city, and there really no promises as to how long it will be around in its present state.
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