Florida Maps Probability of Sinkhole Collapse

Officials from the Florida Geological Survey are developing a map to help predict where sinkholes are likely to occur.

by / December 16, 2013

As a number of neighborhoods discovered this past year, sinkholes are unpredictable, and their very unpredictability is perhaps their most frightening aspect.

On Feb. 28, 2013, for example, a sinkhole opened up beneath a bedroom in Seffner, Fla., swallowing Jeffrey Bush, whose body was never recovered as unstable ground made attempted retrieval too dangerous.

In November, a sinkhole opened in Dunedin, Fla., eating up a swimming pool, a boat and two houses. And there are more. Lots more. While many regions of the world experience sinkholes, Florida is particularly susceptible because of  its unique geography. Limestone and other porous rock exist beneath the surface, and are slowly dissolving in acidic groundwater, which creates underground caves that can collapse unexpectedly.

But now, officials from the Florida Geological Survey in Tallahassee are developing a map that should help predict where sinkholes are likely to occur, according to an article in Scientific American.

The state already maps some 3,500 depressions that may indicate sinkholes or other things, but the idea with this new map is to predict the probability of a sinkhole collapse. The map predictions are based on limestone depth, water table height, and the presence of soil type and surface water.

The new map is expected to remove some of the unpredictability of sinkholes and provide a bit more peace of mind when Floridians climb into bed at night.

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