What are Sinkholes?
A sinkhole is a hole that opens up suddenly in the ground. Though most are 10 to 15 feet in diameter sinkholes have been known to expand to 100 of feet in diameter. Many of central and north Florida’s lakes actually are the result of old sinkholes.
Sinkholes can be very dangerous. They can be a safety concern for people and dangerous to the foundation of buildings. They can cause toxic materials to enter and pollute the groundwater.
The biggest problem is that they can appear suddenly with no warning.
Natural sinkholes occur mostly because of erosion and underground water. They start developing a long time before the hole appears. In a landscape where limestone sits underneath the soil, water from rainfall collects in cracks in the stone. These cracks are called joints. Slowly, as the limestone dissolves and is carried away, the joint widen until the ground above them becomes unstable and collapses. The collapse often happens very suddenly and without very much warning. Water collects in these collapsed sections, forming sinkholes.
Sinkholes also form when the roofs of caves collapse. Sinkholes can also be man-made. They can happen as a result of drilling, construction, mining or even heavy traffic. Sometimes a broken pipe can cause a sudden increase in water underground or forms a pool. This can also cause a sinkhole. Water can erode the ground underneath the streets and called sinkholes as well. Heavy weight that presses down on soft earth can also cause a sinkhole to develop.