The sudden appearance of a hundred-foot-deep sinkhole in a Guatemala city street in 2010 alerted the whole world to the danger of these perilous pits. This small country in the Caribbean isn’t the only sinkhole-prone place in the world. Tampa Bay Times’ Caitlin Johnston reports that the danger of sinkholes is present much closer to home, with several communities in central Florida possibly sitting on top of a future hole. In fact, two thirds of all reported Florida sinkholes in recent years have occurred in just three contiguous counties, from the Tampa Bay area up through the most high risk county, Hernando, where news coverage has mentioned specific preventive sinkhole repair in Spring Hill as critical to saving homes (and possibly lives).
In general, a sinkhole refers to a sizable hole or depression on the Earth’s surface, or even on the ocean floor. While sinkholes occur naturally, geologists believe that they can also be caused by human activity and poor urban planning. In February, a 36-year-old man fell to his death when a 20-foot-deep sinkhole open up beneath his home in Seffner. Getting Florida foundation repair in such cases, using grouting or underpinning for Florida foundation repair, to support the foundation and prevent sudden home collapse in a sinkhole, can mean the difference between life and death. But it must come the moment the earliest signs appear of wall and foundation cracks, sticking or gaps in windows or doors, sagging or buckling floors, and other warning signs.
The United States Geological Survey agrees with Johnston’s headline, as central Florida sits upon a vast deposit of carbonate rock, which is among the substrates that can be dissolved by water over extended periods. Being a notably hurricane-prone area with a subtropical climate, Florida gets a lot of water each year, both from precipitation and from southward-flowing river systems. The vast carbonate rock deposit extends as far as the Florida-Georgia border; while geologists also detect a smaller carbonate rock formation in the southern tip of the peninsula.
Florida’s vulnerability to sinkholes is exemplified by a number of incidents prior to the hole that killed the 36-year-old. A few days before that disaster, a restaurant in Seffner was forced to close due to cracks detected within the building, a phenomenon that geologists linked to possible sinkhole formation. Constant heavy rains can hasten the development of sinkholes as subterranean water flow can erode and undermine porous carbonate areas, inevitable resulting in their collapse. This fact makes Seffner residents believe that they haven’t seen the last of these holes.
Taking the initiative can help save you and your home from getting swallowed up by the Earth. Cracks on walls, floors, and other foundations are among the most common symptoms of a sinkhole waiting to strike. From there, quick foundation crack repair from companies like Foundation Services can get to work with engineering solutions like compaction grouting. This is a proven method of preventing sinkhole formation by injecting a grouting compound into the ground where rock may be eroding away.
Sinkholes in general only need two things: water-soluble rocks and water. Despite Florida’s geological predisposition to sinkhole formation, only a few stories about these make the news, including Johnston’s report. The Florida Geological Survey believes the greater majority of sinkholes in the state either go unnoticed, or aren’t much of a concern. By and large, it is difficult to predict the location and appearance of these dangerous phenomena. Homeowners and building owners can only take preventive measures to tilt the odds against becoming victims of these seemingly random events.