Astounding Sinkholes From Around the World
Sinkholes, also known as a sinks, shake holes, swallow holes, swallets, dolines or cenotes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by ground water circulating through them - otherwise known as the karst processes.. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground. Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a while until the underground spaces just get too big. If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur. Sinkholes may vary in size from 1 to 600 meters (3.3 to 2,000 ft) both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may be formed gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide. The different terms for sinkholes are often used interchangeably. Sinkholes may capture surface drainage from running or standing water, but may also form in high and dry locations.
|This is a sinkhole in a parking lot at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA, USA|
The mechanisms of formation involve natural processes of erosion or gradual removal of slightly soluble bedrock (such as limestone) by percolating water, the collapse of a cave roof, or a lowering of the water table. Sinkholes often form through the process of suffosion. Thus, for example, groundwater may dissolve the carbonate cement holding the sandstone particles together and then carry away the lax particles, gradually forming a void. Sinkholes occur in urban areas due to water main breaks or sewer collapses when old pipes give way. They can also occur from the overpumping and extraction of groundwater and subsurface fluids. They can also form when natural water-drainage patterns are changed and new water-diversion systems are developed. Some sinkholes form when the land surface is changed, such as when industrial and runoff-storage ponds are created; the substantial weight of the new material can trigger an underground collapse of supporting material, thus, causing a sinkhole.
|The Colorado Department of Transportation spent more than $1 million to repair Interstate 25 after a main owned by Denver Water burst and opened a 16-foot sinkhole. (photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain News)|
|Taichung, TAIWAN, 1999: In Taichung Port, a earthquake-opened sinkhole is filled with molasses spilled from nearby storage tanks, which ruptured in an earthquake four days earlier.|
|Orlando, USA, 2002: Emergency personnel stand by a giant sinkhole that opened up inside the Woodhill Apartment complex, forcing dozens of residents to evacuate their apartments.|
|New York, USA, 2006: Ford Explorer sits nose-first inside a 15ft by 20ft-wide sinkhole in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.|
Montrose Avenue Sinkhole, USA
(Photo credits - 2008)
A water main broke, causing a massive sinkhole that destroyed the street and sidewalk in Chicago, IL, USA.
(Pics by englishrussia.com - 2007)
A giant hole appeared right in the middle of Russian town Berezniki and has been growing ever since. The expanding sinkhole first appeared in 1986 near the town of Berezniki, Russia, when a nearby potash mine flooded and began collapsing. It now threatens to swallow the only rail line and support buildings in the area. The sinkhole is about 80 meters (m) long, 40 m wide and 200 m deep. This hole may not be the biggest or deepest, but is globally important because 10% of the world output of potash comes from this area, and the sinkhole threatens production from this critical source.
Bimmah Sinkhole, OMAN
Making the most of one of nature's great oddities, the residents of Bimmah, Oman turned this sinkhole into a tourist trap. (Well actually, a swim park.)
Guatemala City Sinkhole, GUATEMALA
In February 2007, a very large, deep circular hole with vertical walls opened in a poor neighborhood in northeast Guatemala city 14°39′1.40″N 90°29′25″W, killing three people. This hole, which is classified by geologists as either a "piping feature" or "piping pseudokarst", was 100 metres (330 ft) deep, and apparently was created by fluid from a sewer eroding uncemented volcanic ash and other pyroclastic deposits underlying Guatemala City. As a result, one thousand people were evacuated from the area. The piping feature has since been mitigated and plans to develop on the site have been proposed. However, critics believe municipal authorities have neglected needed maintenance on the city's aging sewerage system, and have speculated that more piping features are likely to develop unless action is taken.
In May 2010, another piping feature, which was larger than a street intersection, developed after Tropical Storm Agatha. It engulfed a three story building and a house. 14°39′7.50″N 90°30′21.5″W. This 2010 piping feature is at least 18 m (60 ft) wide and 60 m (200 ft) deep. The distance between the 2010 piping feature and the 2007 piping feature three years ago is about two kilometers (according to their coordinates). Geologists Sam Bonis and T. Waltham argue that the recurring piping features in Guatemala are caused by sewer leaks eroding soft volcanic deposits underlying Guatemala City.
Mount Gambier, AUSTRALIA
Mount Gambier, the second largest city in South Australia, is defined by many natural features, including a massive network of volcanoes and craters, which form blue lakes filled with artesian water and several large sinkholes and water-filled caves which attract cave divers from around the globe. Take a Google Earth tour of the Region. The whole area is literally riddled with sinkholes... but the Blue Lake clusters are certainly the most impressive.
|Photo: Google Earth|
|Umpherston Sinkhole Photo credit|
The Neversink Pit, USA
The Neversink Pit is a limestone sinkhole in Alabama, USA. It is about 40 feet wide at the top, but bells out to an impressive 100 feet at the bottom. It is 162 feet deep. The pit was officially bought on December 5, 1995 by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc (SCCi) for just over $50 000. Money was raised by resselling small parts of the cave to contributors. The SCCi had to sign a special contract to allow a house not far from the cave access to a water spring just above the pit. There are bats in the Neversink Pit, and the SCCi has a special policy that forces visitors to decontaminate certain clothing & gear before access will be allowed to the cave. These procedures are in place to protect the bats against a deadly illness called White Nose Syndrome (WNS).
|Mike Patton climbing out of Neversink Pit, AL. Photo credit|
The Ik-Kil Cenote, MEXICO
Ik Kil is a well known cenote outside Pisté in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán, Mexico. It is located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula and is part of the Ik Kil Archeological Park near Chichen Itza. It is open to the public for swimming and is often included in bus tours.
Sinkhole of Schmalkalden Town, GERMANY
An aerial view of a large crater that appeared in the early hours in the central German town of Schmalkalden, November 1, 2010.
The residents of the quiet, central German town of Schmalkalden got a huge early morning surprise when a crater nearly 100 feet across and 70 feet deep opened up in the middle of a residential area, according to several news reports. None of the town's citizens were injured.
Wolfgang Peter, a resident, said he was awakened by a roaring sound at 3 a.m., reported Der Spiegel
"First I heard the rushing of water and then it sounded as if a dozen gravel trucks were being emptied," Peter said, adding that when he went outside to investigate he suddenly found himself standing on the edge of a giant crater right next to his house.
Sinkhole of Saint-Jude, CANADA
A landslide in Saint-Jude, Quebec, was triggered by a sinkhole that engulfed a house northeast of Montreal. The sinkhole destroyed a family's house (four people lived inside) and the road nearby. (May 11, 2010)
It is believed the family was in the basement cheering on ice hockey team the Montreal Canadiens in their Stanley Cup play-off game against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the earth opened up and swallowed their country home. Neighbors said the area's soil was unstable and a similar landslide wiped out a small bridge a few years ago. Three cars in front of the house were also swept away, as well as a nearby road. Five other houses in the area were evacuated.
Natural Resources Canada said clay earth-flows have caused 100 deaths in modern times, including the destruction of two Quebec towns - Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette in 1908 and St-Jean-Vianney in 1971.
|A firetruck is removed from a sinkhole in North Hollywood, Calif. The ground had been saturated by weeks of rain|