Wednesday, May 21, 2008

5 Giant Holes That Devoured Everything Around Them

Guatemala Sinkhole. Image via AP

Imagine walking down the street, minding your own business, when suddenly the earth begins to shake and fold in. Imagine that the very ground you stand on is disintegrating beneath your feet, being devoured by a giant hole. No - this isn’t some lewd joke about Paris Hilton or something from Return of the Jedi. No, today we’re going to explore the phenomenon of sinkholes and some of the most incredible and destructive examples.

Before we go into them however, you’ll probably need a bit of amateur scientific background from me. In short, sinkholes form when the bedrock or soil underneath subsides, forcing the topsoil (or in many cases concrete) to collapse. They can be exceptionally large (several hundred meters in diameter and depth) and can swallow everything directly above. So, without further ado, here are five giant holes that devoured everything around them.

5. Montrose Avenue sinkhole

80 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep, a huge sinkhole opened up in the middle of Montrose Avenue after a water main break flooded the tarmac. The avenue remained closed for a couple weeks and helped shut down roughly 8 businesses, right after Christmas, in January this year. Fortunately, no one was killed.

Want to know what the flood that caused this sinkhole looked like?

4. Macungie, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania 1986

At over 75 feet wide and 35 feet deep, the Macungie sinkhole formed in June, 1986. Stabilization and repair costs totaled $450,000.

Image via DCNR

3. Bowling Green KY

A 200 ft wide and 35 deep, this sinkhole collapsed in Bowling Green Kentucky, due to water runoff, underneath the soil. The site was right next to the proposed TriModal Transpark. I bet they’re glad they didn’t build there!

2. Sarisariñama Plateau

Located in the Jaua-Sarisariñama National Park in Venezuela are some of the biggest sinkholes in the world. The sinkholes are 350 meters wide and 350 meters deep and are a geological mystery. The huge vertical walls have created an isolated ecosystem, with completely unique species of both flora and fauna. They’re so isolated in fact, that the sinkholes were only discovered in 1974. The scientific expedition was documented in David Nott’s book “into the lost world.”

1. Guatemala City

On the 23rd of February 2007, a 330 foot deep sinkhole swallowed up over a dozen homes in a crowded neighbourhood in Guatemala City. Over 1000 people were evacuated and two people were killed.

The giant hole emitted a foul stench, tremors and loud noises. The authorities blamed the sinkhole on a ruptured underground sewage flow.

Images from AP, orignally found from deputy dog

and if you understand Spanish, there’s a news report here, which just shows how large the hole is:

Original here

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