Living is fun and scary at the same time, especially when we don’t know when sinkholes will happen under our feet. Sinkholes often occur due to the increase of erosion under the ground, and they are very dangerous. Imagine you are walking out of Starbucks, and you simply fall into the ground at your third step out of the door. Sinkholes are both terrifying and dangerous because they don’t usually show signs before happening. This scary event happens almost everywhere in the world on both small and large scales, and we have 10 to show you today.
Sinkholes are already bad, but the ones that emit dangerous levels of radiation make things even worse. That was the exact sinkhole that appeared in the forest near Bayou Corne on 3rd August, 2010. The collapse of an underground salt dome caused a 422 feet deep sinkhole, but it was the worse case among most sinkholes. This sinkhole had been hollowed out by decades of mining by the Texas Brine Co., it was not a natural erosion.
That expanding sinkhole was perilously close to an underground storage facility with 63 million gallons of butane gas. It was the matter of methane and natural gas coming out of the ground so fast it makes the swamp look like a boiling pot.
A man was driving his van through Guilin City one morning when the road’s surface suddenly got a lot higher. A sinkhole had opened directly under his van which instantly dropped him into the shallow hole and flipped the van onto its side. The man was injured, but he recovered quickly which was a good thing.
Sinkholes actually occur all over the world, but more of them have been popping up in China lately. In another separate incident, a sinkhole appeared in the middle of a highway in Changsha and swallowed a BMW with 3 passengers. The incident killed one passenger, and the pit was at least 30 meters wide and too deep to see the bottom.
Early in the morning of 7th May, 2008, 600 feet of fields, forest, and residential land sank into the ground. It left behind a 150 feet deep crater that shocked those who watched it happen. As it happened, the road began to shake, and a pit appeared so quickly it grew to 20 feet in diameter. Then it kept growing and swallowing everything in its path.
The thing is that Daisetta is built on top of a salt dome which is a massive underground pile of salt. It is like limestone, it is highly susceptible to water erosion which becomes a cave eventually. The sinkhole was expected to keep growing, and it could take down the whole town if the entire salt dome collapses.
On 29th November, 2012, there was a sinkhole with a diameter larger than four football fields. A chunk of highway and a pond went down with the sinkhole, and the officials knew exactly what caused it. For years, a local company has been dredging sand out of the area with more than 50 feet of digging down to pull it out. Combining that with the naturally sandy and unstable soil, the appearance of a sinkhole was not a surprise.
On 30th of May, 2010, an entire intersection in the middle of the city simply disintegrated and left a circular hole. The sinkhole was 300 feet deep and 60 feet wide, and it also took one of the buildings with it. So far, the geologists are not sure about the causes that formed the Guatemala sinkhole. They believed that it was either natural by water erosion on the limestone beneath the surface or burst sewage line. That was one huge sinkhole, and it was the second sinkhole in Guatemala.
In early September back in 2012, Juan Unger was on his way home from work when the road collapsed in front of him. With no time to stop and no room to swerve, he took the option left by driving straight into it. The hole started small, but it was large enough for Juan’s car. The cause of the sinkhole was a sewer that had burst under the Canadian driveway he was driving on. It left an open space beneath the asphalt that eventually crumbled in on itself. It quickly expanded from small to across the highway until it was about the size of an Olympic pool.
The unique thing about Picher Sinkhole is that it was dozens of sinkholes combined as one large sinkhole. Due to extensive mining around and under the city, there have been numerous accounts of sinkholes appearing overnight. Even worse, some of the sinkholes experience a second life underground that comes bubbling up to the surface.
The water is highly acidic and rich with heavy metals from the mining waste which sinkholes into toxic lakes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this little town is now the most toxic place in the country. Now, it is even a ghost town with a population of only about 20 or less this day.
It was 3AM in the morning when Wolfgang Peter woke up by the noise he thought were dump trucks outside his house. Turned out, the sound he heard was no trucks but half of his garage falling 65 feet into the bowels of the earth. The question was how did that happen in the middle of a residential neighborhood? No dangers were caused, but one automobile fell down to the depths of the sinkhole. Officials stated that natural causes were the roots of the sinkhole, not mining.
No unexpected sinkhole can beat the one that Jeff Bush experienced on 28th February, 2013. Jeremy rushed into the room to find a sinkhole in the middle of his bedroom after hearing a crash and a yell from his brother. The sinkhole was about 20 feet wide right in the middle of the house, and his brother was nowhere in sight. The television was still dangling through the mouth of the sinkhole, held up by its power cord.
According to Jeremy, he jumped into the hole to try to save his brother. And he had to be pulled out when an emergency crew arrived, his brother was never found and was presumed dead. His living area was well-known for sinkholes, and there have been over 500 sinkholes recorded since 1954. That very town is one of the other places in the country where sinkhole insurance is required for homeowners.
The same sinkhole reopens 2 years after, exactly the same place where it was last time. The good thing was that there were no injuries or fatalities this time.
On 8th March, 2013, Mark Mihal was enjoying a round of golf with some friends when a sinkhole suddenly opened up directly below him. The sinkhole plunged him 18 feet down into a muddy pit, the good thing was that he was not severely injured. His friends ran to find help, and Ed Magaletta who was Mark’s golfing buddy helped him. He tied a rope to his waist and climbed down into the sinkhole to perform an impromptu rescue.
The golf course sinkhole had the shape of a bell with just a small opening on the surface that widened to about 10 feet. According to the geologist, the sinkhole was caused by limestone that slowly eroded away due to the groundwater. The result is that it appears to be solid ground one moment, and the next moment it is not. At least the sinkhole was not too deep, and Mark was the only person to fall into it. He was very lucky, indeed.
Sinkholes can be natural due to erosion or underground water, or man-made like drilling, mining, construction, broken water, or drain pipes. There are three major types of sinkholes including Cover Collapse, Cover Subsidence, and Solution.
- Cover Collapse Sinkholes take place when the bedrock is covered by a deep layer of soil and earth. Once the bedrock begins to get eroded, cracks start forming in the rocky areas around it. When this happens, a number of weak points begin to form in the layers of soil and strata above it. Then the weak points become a large hole within the bedrock that cannot support the weight above it. The cover collapse usually happens in a sudden manner and can create large holes in a matter of minutes.
- Cover Subsidence Sinkhole has bedrock that is covered by soil and materials which are not well-knitted together. Areas that have soil comprised largely of clay or sand often face the occurrence of this hole. Once the bedrock starts to erode, the clay or sand starts permeating through the cracks and settles into the spaces left behind.
- Solution Sinkholes are common in areas that have a very thin cover of soil on the surface. The surface exposes the bedrock below to continual erosion by water, and the bedrock erodes as the water runs through. When there is no more support, the surface of the ground collapse into sinkholes based on the size of the erosion.
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