Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Breaking: Big Sinkhole Opens Near Trailer Park in Tarpon Springs Florida and Why It Matters for Karst Terminology

Tarpon springs is located in the area directly to the
west of lake in the northern portion of the map. It is
in a part of Florida where natural sinkholes are
quite common. But was today's surface collapse
a natural sinkhole?
The news is here.

What is interesting about this report is that the Tampa Bay Times used the term, "hole" as opposed to "sinkhole" which is normally used in these reports. This shows a growing level of sophistication in the public and in the press on appropriate terminology for karst forms.

Many use the term sinkhole for any large hole that opens on the surface of the earth regardless of how it forms. Karst scientists prefer to use the term to mean exclusively those holes that open as a result of solution processes (usually limestone) underground. Most sinkholes form from the collapse of cavernous features in limestone areas.

However, since there are so many other types of holes that open, especially in cities, many use the term sinkhole for a wide variety of suddenly forming holes especially those that form from collapsed water or sewer lines. I am one of those people who think that the term sinkhole is a perfectly fine, although not precise, generic term for all kinds of suddenly forming holes. However, in karst settings, most understand that the term is usually applied to those holes that form naturally from underground solution.

Because it is unclear whether or not the hole formed from karst processes or as a result of the collapse of a sewer or water line, the Tampa Bay Times uses "hole" in this instance. This is the first time in recent memory that the press has made so fine and appropriate distinction. Nicely done Tampa Bay Times!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not far from this sinkhole are two Karst "windows". Spring Bayou and Lake Tarpon Sink/Knights Sink. Those two are known to be connected via an underground cave system by dye testing back in the 50's and 60's (When Lake Tarpon sink was dammed off). The new possible sink hole that just opened is almost on a direct line between those two. Possible cave collapse?