Florida Sinkhole Study

By: Garin Flowers Email
By: Garin Flowers Email

By: Garin Flowers

February 17, 2014, 6pm

Florida, always known for its hurricanes, has been making big headlines lately for another natural disaster: sinkholes.

A group of geologists is now out to study them and hopefully trace their patterns.

On peaceful and cold Thursday, divers took a dip in warm water-filled sinkholes at Peacock Springs State Park in Suwannee County. The park has several of these landscapes that lead down to the Floridan Aquifer.

Geologists say these sinkholes have been around for hundreds of years. But, no two sinkholes are the same and for many, they are a disaster.

"This is where the sinkhole, according to the report, is off the front porch, but this side of the house is fine," said MariaElena Piccirillo.

MariaElena Piccirillo has been trying to leave Suwannee for months. But, she can't sell her home because it was diagnosed as having a sinkhole.

"You can't get a mortgage on a house with a sinkhole claim on your deed because you cannot get the proper insurance. That's the issue," said Piccirillo.

She's now looking for a second opinion and hoping that'll allow her to sell the home off.

Sinkholes have become natural disasters popping up all over Florida.

In recent history, they've taken down homes and large apartment complexes, and become a growing danger for Floridians.

Clint Kromhout and Alan Baker work for the Florida Geological Survey. They received a grant to study sinkholes and try to figure them out.

"I'm find them very interesting: why they happen, where they happen, and what's unique about the area," said Baker.

Their research will span the state, starting with several north Florida counties. We set out with them in Suwannee at Peacock Springs to study old sinkholes and new ones not yet documented.

"What we actually have here is a view into the Floridan Aquifer and at some point before this was flat ground as you can see," said Kromhout.

For Clint and Alan, their research has a specific goal in mind.

"The end result is to produce a map that shows sinkhole formation vulnerability that the Division of Emergency Management will use to bolster their state hazard mitigation plan," said Kromhout.

For now they'll work to unearth the mystery of sinkholes and hopefully make a difference.

The Florida Geological Survey has a database where you can see if your home is near an area with documented sinkhole activity. To speak with someone about sinkholes or to request access to the database, call (850) 617-0301.

To access the Florida Geological Survey's website, click here.

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