The Science Behind Sinkholes

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By Greg Gullberg
March 04, 2013

Suwannee Co., FL - Mikell Cook says he and his neighbors have learned more about Geology than they ever cared to since last summer when Tropical Storm Debby swept through much of Florida leaving Live Oak and surrounding areas peppered with sinkholes.

He and his neighbors live in the town of McAlpin, where just his property and the one next to it play host to more than 60 sinkholes including one massive one, known as the McAlpin Grand Canyon.

And more than half a year later it continues, another one just opened up Thursday. These neighbors believe there's a whole cavern under their yards they didn't know about until Debby.

"What's so scary about it is you never know when they're going to break out, how big they're going to be and how devastating they're going to be," said Mikell Cook.

The reason we have so many sinkholes is the thick layer of Limestone underlying the whole Florida peninsula all the way to Charleston South Carolina. Limestone disolves easily leaving underground caves and rivers. So the bedrock looks something like swiss cheese.

Sinkholes can be triggered by heavy rainfall, heavy drought and excessive pumping of groundwater. Homeowners should look for warning signs. Sinkholes come in clusters, so look for cracks in the walls and depressions in the yard.

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