State Geologists Mapping Florida Sinkholes

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By: Emily Johnson
December 27, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - "Probably the reason why more and more of them are becoming reported is because more and more people are moving to Florida and they are moving to areas where we know sinkhole activity is common," said Harley Means, Assistant State Geologist for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The Florida Geological Survey is currently under contract with the Division of Emergency Management with the funding through FEMA to conduct a pilot study program of sinkhole activity in Suwannee, Hamilton and Columbia counties.

"We were funded to produce a sinkhole vulnerability map and that map will be given to the division of emergency management and it will help them bolster and be able to respond more rapidly to sinkhole activity," said Means.

Means said their plan is to develop a computer model of the pilot study sites and then incorporate the rest of Florida. Every state has a hazard mitigation plan for emergencies and the Emergency Management of Florida wants a tool to better understand where sinkholes are most common. "They actually had a need because they had a tropical storm and dump a lot of rain and Live Oak experience and unprecedented flooding and a punch of sinkholes," said Means.

Means said the entire Big Bend coastline as well as Tarpon Springs and Tampa are areas considered high risk to sinkhole activity. Means also said the likelihood of you being affected by a sinkhole is miniscule.

The pilot study is expected to take a year and a half to be completed.

News Release: Associated Press News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- State geologists already have been to 30 sites and mapped about 50 sinkholes as they begin to plumb the depth of the state's vulnerability to ground collapse.

The Tampa Tribune reports that Florida received a $1.08 million federal grant for a three-year statewide study, starting last month with a pilot study in Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee counties.

The result will be a detailed, multi-layered map that shows where sinkholes are most likely to form, but doesn't predict where and when individual sinkholes will occur.

In February, a Seffner man died when a sinkhole opened under his bedroom as he slept.

Sinkholes are common in Florida because of porous rock, such as limestone, that stores water underground.

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