Sinkholes are not something we normally witness in all parts of the world. But in Pierce Guatemala a giant sinkhole takes building by swallowing it whole. This three story building was destroyed by a huge sinkhole in 2010, but this wasn’t the first time this city was haunted by this Earthly phenomenon. Just three years earlier they had a similar incident involving a giant sinkhole.
What are Sinkholes
Believe it or not, sinkholes are a natural occurring phenomenon that start as depressions in the Earth. These are normally caused when the soil becomes saturated with water. This effects other particles by making them much heavier than the soil. It is at this point that the heavier particles will cause the surface to cave in and the soil collapses.
A sinkhole may also be formed when a natural fracture within a limestone layer is enlarged by water. As this fracture eventually get larger and larger, more of the soil will poor off into the hole which over time will result in a sinkhole.
A sinkhole is normally formed where water is concentrated for long periods of time like after a heavy rain storm, usually after a good drought period as well. When a bad drought occurs any water that may be present below the Earth’s surface will be consumed in order for living things around it to survive. It’s at this point that these dry water pockets begin to weaken the surface and it caves inward. And of course if there is any excess water on the surface due to flooding or heavy rains, then the top soil becomes even more weak and susceptible to caving in.
Sinkholes are still a bit baffling to scientists, but the best estimation is that the 2010 Guatemalan sinkhole had been forming for several weeks if not years before it finally collapsed. But when the tropical storm Agatha brought tons of flooding, the sinkhole had no choice but to surrender and give way.
When we’re talking about a big sinkhole like the one in Pierce, imagine one about 60 ft wide and 30 stories deep. Now that’s a massive hole! Remember, this thing totally destroyed a three story building as well.
Could the Sewers Cause a Sinkhole?
One popular theory concerning the sinkhole in 2007 was that a sewer line had burst underneath the surface and all the water that flooded out of the sewer line weakened the soil and caused the sinkhole. Now it’s quite possible that the sinkhole in 2010 may of been caused by a similar problem.
Scientists say that if in fact a sewer line did burst underground that the soil may of slowly been saturated, which would of weakened it quite a bit. Then as the tropical storm Agatha landed, it just doubled the trouble on that same spot. A sinkhole was inevitable, but let me tell ya, this thing was huge!
Sewer or no sewer, what ever happened in that spot must of been on a tremendous scale to cause a sinkhole that was 30 stories deep. Just think about that, that’s the height of a small skyscraper!
Now this isn’t the first time a sinkhole has occurred, but normally they aren’t nearly this large. It’s general practice to drive over a few dump truck loads of rock and debris to dump into the sinkhole to fill the void. But imagine how much stuff it would take to fill in a 60ft wide by 30ft deep sinkhole. That’s a massive undertaking.
We can’t forget the possible danger that a sinkhole could continue weakening along it’s walls which would cause another collapse, making the hole even bigger. Which would put any thing around it in potential danger of destruction.
Have you ever seen a sinkhole or witnessed one? Anyone have any brilliant ideas on how to prevent these from destroying buildings and possibly killing folks in the future? Let’s not forget, Guatemala is not the only country to be stricken with sinkholes. In fact Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee are States in the U.S. that have also seen their share of sinkholes.