The thought of the ground opening and swallowing us up is something of a surreal nightmare, but shockingly, this frightful concept is becoming a reality for many throughout the world, including right here in the UK.
Generally speaking, Britain will see either one or two sinkholes in a year, but the beginning of 2014 saw six sinkholes in just one month! In light of this, The British Geological Survey has studied the recent collapses and has predicted that it is likely the country will see more disturbances from sinkholes in the imminent future.
A sudden injection of water underground
It seems these sinkholes appear when there is a sudden injection of water underground, adding stress to the building’s unground structure that ultimately breaks the ground. Dr Tony Cooper from The British Geological Survey explains how certain regions of the UK are more susceptible to sinkholes due to the type of rock. For instance, Gypsum is particularly vulnerable to water and can erode quickly when exposed to it. This explains the reason for the unfortunate situation that occurred in Ripon, North Yorkshire recently, where three homes were evacuated after a 25ft wide hole appeared in the ground beneath a house.
The British Geological Survey revealed how Ripon is one of the most susceptible areas in Britain prone to sinkholes due to deposits of Permian Gypsum that dissolve rapidly. Dr Cooper digs deeper, explaining“If you took a chunk of gypsum the size of a van and left it in a river it would be dissolved in about 18 months.” Harrogate Borough Council confirmed the house remained in isolation until a technical specialise was able to assess the severity of the damage done. Another sinkhole incident in the UK was in Hemel Hempstead when an even larger hole opened up on a suburban road, estimated to be 25ft wide and 20ft deep! 20 families were evacuated, 12 because their homes were unsafe to stay occupied and the others because the gas supplies had to be cut off.
The weather is not the primary cause for sinkholes
Dr Vanessa Banks, also of The British Geological Society, claims this incident was down to recent heavy rainfall. However the weather is not the primary cause for sinkholes. The cause lies in the existence of a cavity depth, and as acidic water from rain passes through the ground over decades, it eats away at limestone in the earth, creating cavities that take down whatever happens to lie above it.
These destructive incidents are also occurring outside of the UK, causing havoc in other locations worldwide, including Florida, which has been named the sinkhole capital of the word. The entire state is built on a limestone platform and over 6,500 sinkhole insurance claims are made every year!
One tragic incident in particular happened in Tampa back in February 2013. The police received an emergency call out to Mr Bush’s home where the ground beneath his detached bungalow had suddenly opened up, without any warning, and literally swallowed Jeff Bush and his home. Despite his brother, Jeremy Bush’s extreme attempts to dig him out, it appeared the strength of the sinkhole was too powerful and took everything into the black void beneath ground. Residents on the estate described the sinkhole in shocking and disturbing truth, “It’s like this thing was alive…it was churning, moving around…making noises, you know…like a growl”.
The recurring incidents of sinkholes are undoubtedly and understandably making residents nervous for the security of their own properties as no one knows exactly where or when the next one could occur.
However, some say it is nature’s way of reminding us of the growing pressures and strains that humanity is placing on the world’s natural support system. So, it is debatable whether we, ourselves, are actually the ones responsible for these destructive and unforgiving voids appearing throughout the world.
If you’re looking for a way to get rid of any excess water that could potentially be damaging to your property and the surrounding public, then you might want to consider finding yourself professional drainage contractors like Wildon UK. We specialise in finding you a drainage solution that sees to your needs, restoring things back to their original order. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today to find out more about our drainage services.Go back to