That? Oh, it’s just a spontaneous rift in the surface of our planet. (Déjà vu.) No biggie, right?

That’s what officials in Sonora, where this 3,300-foot-long 25-foot-deep crack in the earth appeared last week, would have you believe. As one geologist told the Washington Post, it’s probably just a “topographic accident”:

… the fissure was likely caused by sucking out groundwater for irrigation to the point the surface collapsed.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

“This is no cause for alarm,” Inocente Guadalupe Espinoza Maldonado said. “These are normal manifestations of the destabilization of the ground.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

To which David Manthos of SkyTruth responded:

I’m sorry, no. These are not normal manifestations of natural activity, this is the result of human activity run amok. Just because Cthulhu isn’t clambering out of the breach to wreak havoc on humankind DOES NOT MEAN we shouldn’t be alarmed by the fact we’ve sucked so much water out of the ground that the surface of the earth is collapsing.

Lest you think this is only a problem south of the border, consider the nearby Colorado River Basin. Both areas are subject to huge agricultural pressures and in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the region’s recorded history. The Colorado Basin turns out to be short 53 million acre-feet of freshwater, or twice the total capacity of Lake Mead (which is also not doing great). Three-quarters of that absent H2o are estimated to have been drawn from groundwater reserves, which take centuries to build back up. And when the groundwater goes, the ground starts swallowing huge swaths of itself instead.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Is it bad that part of me was kinda hoping for a Lovecraftian supermonster? I’ve seen Tremors. I know how to handle tentacled beasts of the Netherworld. But human nature? Beats me.