Weather Events

Can we predict where a sinkhole might happen?
Answered by Planet Green
  • Planet Green

    Planet Green

  1. Discovery of a sinkhole when a sudden collapse occurs dangerous but the mere existence of an open sinkhole that appeared gradually still is highly inconvenient and expensive to fix. The moment a sinkhole collapses, anyone or anything that happens to be on the topsoil at that second is in danger. As sinkholes appear more and more often in crowded, urban areas, they represent more danger to people. In 2007, a monstrous sinkhole, which was over 330 feet (101 meters) deep, appeared almost instantly in Guatemala City, killing at least three people and swallowing the homes and buildings that had been on top of it.

    Even though the actual sinkhole usually reveals itself suddenly, the erosion occurring below it can go on for years. Because sinkholes are the most dangerous at the moment they collapse, you might want to know if the land you're on is really just a thin layer of topsoil that could cave in at any moment. If you own a house, damage to its foundation could be evidence of underground erosion. Many sinkholes are caused by increased water flow, so anything that indicates unusual water activity may also be a clue. For example, if vegetation is dying unexpectedly, it could be because water is being diverted to an underground cavern, denying hydration to the local plant life. Also, muddied, polluted or new ponds can indicate that water and dirt are moving through new underground caverns and conduits. If buried signposts start slumping, that may signal that the ground below is weak.

    Short of these signs, you can also watch out for the human activities that are known to contribute to sinkhole erosion. A great many sinkholes, especially those occurring in urban areas, may be due as much to human activity as to the soft bedrock and shallow overburden (topsoil) in the area. An increase in the weight the topsoil has to bear can lead to a sinkhole collapse. Drilling and construction can weaken the overburden and bedrock from below. Broken underground water pipes are especially dangerous because they can cause underground flooding and carry away the soil that surrounds the pipes, hollowing out the ground.

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