Friday, July 14, 2017

What We Can Learn from Today's Big Sinkhole in Florida

A big sinkhole opened up in Land 'O Lakes Florida today. Check out the two videos below of two different homes collapsing into the void. Ten other homes have been declared unsafe and as of this writing it is unclear if they can be reoccupied.

There are two things we can learn from this sinkhole.

First, sinkhole repairs do not always work. According to this news report, repairs were made to stabilize the property a few years ago. It is clear that sometimes the subsurface voids are too big for repairs and sometimes new subsurface voids form after repairs are made.

Second, the rule of uniformitarianism is alive and well. Uniformitarianism in the field of geology is the idea that processes that happened in the past will occur again. Just take a look at the below map of the Land 'O Lakes area where the sinkhole formed. It is full of sinkhole lakes that formed in the past. I don't think it is a surprise to any geologist that a new sinkhole formed in this area. One of the key questions that geologists have not been able to answer is how frequently sinkholes formed in the past. The answer to this question would help us better understand the timing of new sinkhole formation.

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