What Is Your Understanding Of Sinkholes?

@Janey1966 (24192)
Carlisle, England
March 2, 2013 11:56am CST
I had heard about that unfortunate man being swallowed up by a sinkhole in his bedroom, in Florida so I chose to read a bit more about him on The New York Times website. It's a terrible way to go isn't it? Poor man. I also feel extremely sorry for his brother, in particular, who tried to save him. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/us/florida-sinkhole-growing-as-engineers-investigate.html?_r=0 What exactly ARE sinkholes? Do they come about if houses are built on unstable ground? Are they on the increase and, if so, what's being done about it? Over here we have problems with houses being built on flood plains and people not really having gardens anymore as they get concreted over for their cars. This, in turn causes drainage problems as Victorian sewers are over-worked and cannot cope with immense amounts of rain, therefore causing flooding in areas prone to it in the first place. Are sinkholes a similar thing? Developers knowingly building on poor land?
3 people like this
10 responses
@owlwings (44155)
• Cambridge, England
2 Mar 13
The sink holes in Florida are because the rock below the ground is limestone which is soluble in rainwater and so contains many underground streams and caves. From time to time, the roofs of the caves collapse and whatever is above them, which may be hundreds of feet of earth, simply disappears into the void. In England, it is thought that the Cheddar Gorge was caused by the collapse of a huge cave system and there are many cave systems in the Mendips and in Derbyshire, especially, where there are small sink holes down which streams disappear only to reappear miles away. Sink holes can also sometimes be caused by mining or gas or oil extraction but usually the subsidence doesn't produce such large or deep holes as those seen in limestone areas.
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@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
2 Mar 13
Yes, I read a bit about the limestone explanation but you've explained it even more, so thanks for that. I understand a bit more about it now. So, does this mean that the guy in question (plus others around him) had no idea there was potential for a sinkhole to appear?
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@owlwings (44155)
• Cambridge, England
2 Mar 13
One news report I read mentioned that a surveyor had visited the house not long before and had found no indication of any problems. It seems that sink holes are so common in that area that insurance companies have to include insurance against such events. Unfortunately, it is usually simply not possible to predict where a sink hole will appear next.
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@Hatley (164077)
• Garden Grove, California
3 Mar 13
hi we had a small one here in Orange county that just opened up under a car while the lady was trying to navigate a flooded street which she should not have tried in the first place. . They did get her out safely bu t the car moved fast and was down about ten feet.The soil was wet and they said that there was limestone under it had dissolved with all the rain,That section of street is now closed and all the businesses there have closed and moved to stable ground elsewhere,
• United States
2 Mar 13
That poor man was crying on the tv. I felt so bad for his brother who was not going to make it out. I sure hope that will not happen again because that is a terrible way to die.
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@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
2 Mar 13
I'd never really heard of sinkholes until I heard and saw this story. It was like something out of a disaster movie but, unfortunately, the event was real. I agree it's a horrendous way to die. Is the land surrounding the house in danger of collapsing as well? From what I've been reading it looks likely and somebody said it's amazing the whole house hasn't disappeared before now.
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• United States
2 Mar 13
My mother was aware of these happening before this time. I was very shocked to learn of this man passing like this. I am down right sad for the whole family. I hope the insurance company let them buy a new house else where.
• China
3 Mar 13
Sadly! The man never thought he lived above an abyss.The flood plains is different from Karst where the man lived.They say the man's house lie on bedrock made of limestone that can be eaten away by acidic ground water forming voids,once the rock can't support the weight of what is above it.
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@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
11 Mar 13
It's horrendous whichever way you look at it. Is there machinery that can detect these things?
• China
12 Mar 13
I reckon there should be such kind of machinery.I don't know how they laid the foundation when they built the house.
@jwfarrimond (4474)
2 Mar 13
It seems that there are a lot of limestone caves in that area and it was one of these that collapsed. In Lancashire, the problem is old mineshafts and workings - there is nowhere in this area that is not underlain by derelict mine workings. I remember seeing a report about a disaster that happened many years ago when mining was still active. An old mineshaft which happened to be under railway line, collapsed just as a goods train was approaching. The entire train went streight down the shaft. The bodies of the men in the engine were never recovered.
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@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
3 Mar 13
My Dad used to mine many years ago. Very dangerous activity. Many of them (including the one Dad worked in) have been sealed so we don't have a booming mining industry like we used to. I don't know the name of the mine Dad worked in but it WAS in Lancashire.
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@allknowing (98554)
• India
3 Mar 13
I was not aware of sinkholes till now. Did some surfing and found this link which has all the details. There is nothing one can do I suppose as it is not possible to test the ground before putting up structures: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/hazards/sinkholes.htm
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@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
3 Mar 13
I never knew all of Florida is 'underlain with limestone' either.
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@wolfie34 (26789)
• United Kingdom
2 Mar 13
Scary, I heard about that too my friend, the last thing you'd expect, this was the first time I have ever heard of a sink hole, I found another discussion by a Mylot member and the helplessness of the brother of the victim. No one knows when our time is up, but you don't expect to go that way. That is part of the reason why surveys have to be done prior to buying a property, the history and lay out of the land and whether the ground is susceptible to flooding etc... Also erosion, I always found it sad that the Isle Of Wight is slowly sinking into the sea, and so much property has been lost through cliff erosion. They even had to relocate one of the Pleasure parks on the isle because it was close to falling in the sea.
@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
3 Mar 13
Awful isn't it? Keeps topographers busy though. Mum would absolutely love one of those globes (a small one) but I told her that she'd have to buy one every year if she wants to be up-to-date!
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@mariaperalta (19086)
• Mexico
2 Mar 13
Very sad. I saw this story here in mexico on cnn international. Hope this never happens to anyone again. Thanks for sharing this story here. Have a super saturday there...
@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
2 Mar 13
It's a horrible way to die. I only hope it was quick.
1 person likes this
• Mexico
2 Mar 13
Sure was, a looks to me like there really is no way to know when this might happen to someone.
@owlwings (44155)
• Cambridge, England
2 Mar 13
I don't think that it was very quick. His brother said that he was sure that he heard him calling for help and then, of course, he had to be rescued and later whatever instruments they lowered (presumably a camera and a microphone) showed no signs of life. It's likely that he suffocated or drowned. It's likely that, because of the instability of the ground, the body will never be recovered because a huge amount of earth may still disappear into an underground cavern which may be the size of a cathedral. Anyone who has ever visited a limestone cave will know how enormous these spaces can be.
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@garson (884)
• United States
11 Mar 13
When I heard about this news a week ago, I was trying to figure out the term myself. Whoever this guy was, he was so unfortunate. This image is an example of sinkhole - http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/images/stories/large/2010/06/07/SINK-HOLES-96522814-1.jpg. My guess would be that his house or where he lives was an old land. Something in the ground must have rot that caused it that way. Just don't quote me since I have lack of understanding of this. I would try to read on this further whenever it is convenient for me.
@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
11 Mar 13
They're creepy looking, aren't they? I'm amazed there haven't been more deaths with these things.
@BarBaraPrz (33080)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
2 Mar 13
"And the earth swallowed him up." Sounds biblical, doesn't it? In this case, the sinkhole was probably a result of groundwater suddenly draining away. In the far north, it happens when the permafrost melts and the ice structure is no longer holding up the soil.
@Janey1966 (24192)
• Carlisle, England
2 Mar 13
Oh, I see, I get you. It does sound biblical, you're right. The brother is in a right state from what I can gather. Such a shame for all concerned.
@Hatley (164077)
• Garden Grove, California
3 Mar 13
hi Janeyh I do not really understand what makes them but what an awful way to die for that poor man and his poor brother really tried to save hin b ut could not. WE met up with one because my dad refused to take the alternate road instead of the one we had planned on using so he gets there and the bridge is not safe as a lot of boards are missing. So he decides he will just make it across this little creek that only had a few inches of water in it,so he starts across and suddenly there iks a big rumbel and the car starts to sink. Panicked we jump out of the car as it slowly sinks five feet below the creek bed .We had to start walking to the nearest farm house when a highway patrol car pulls over and gives us a ridhee into the nearest town.there we find a garage that has a tow truck and a mechanisnm on it that can pull the car out of the hole.they had to work quickly as they had no idea of whether the sink hole would remain static or drop even further.this whole thing cost my dad about three thousand dollars just because he refused to take the detour which he should have taken,.