Tamara Narayan is visiting my blog today with an intriguing article on sink holes….
They come without warning, swallowing streets, homes, even entire villages. I’m talking about: sinkholes.
The Big: In 2010, a sinkhole 60 feet wide and 300 feet deep swallowed a three-story factory in the slums of Guatemala City. How could this happen?
Sinkholes typically form from the erosion of soluble substances underground like limestone, salt deposits, or carbonate rock. (Source) Over time, such erosion forms a empty cavern under the surface. If the ground on top of this cavern is too thin or too weak, it will collapse into the hole below (taking down any buildings or people unlucky enough to be there.)
According to this National Geographic article, the initial problem in Guatemala was manmade, specifically a broken sewer or drain pipe. Volcanic eruptions days before the sinkhole appeared could have introduced ash into the city’s pipes and drains, blocking them and causing ruptures or making ones that already existed bigger. Making matters worse, the ground in this area is composed of volcanic pumice, loose gravel-like particles that are easily eroded by swiftly moving water.
A deluge of such fast-moving water arrived days after the volcanic eruption with Tropical Storm Agatha. The massive sinkhole appeared during this storm, which brought over three feet of rain to the region. (Source)
The Bad: Do you remember the scene in the film, A Nightmare On Elm Street, when Freddy grabs Johnny Depp’s character with knife-clawed hands and pulls to the boy to his doom through a hole in his bed? (YouTube clip)
Something just as horrifying happened in real life to a man in Seffner, Florida. In February 2013, a sinkhole opened under Jeff Bush’s bedroom. His brother heard him scream and tried to rescue him, but to no avail. The house had to be demolished, the sinkhole filled in, and a fence was put around the property. In August 2015, the same hole opened up again (see above). Mr. Bush’s body was never recovered.
The Beautiful: Not all sinkholes are places of death and destruction. Some are tourist destinations. The Devil’s Den (pictured above) is a popular SCUBA training and recreational facility in Williston, Florida. Human remains have been discovered in one of the underwater passageways, but not to worry! They are historical in nature, dating back to 7500 B.C. Extinct animal remains found there include mastodons, dire wolves, and saber-toothed cats. Whoa. (Wikipedia)
This particular sinkhole is featured in my short story, Detour. Chloe Langley reminisces about the trip she took to Devil’s Den during her senior year of high school with her first real boyfriend. The couple had a blast, exploring the grounds, climbing into the grotto, and splashing each other with the cool, 72 degree water.
Now Chloe is a senior again, this time in college, but her future is full of dark holes. Graduation looms with no job prospects. Her current beau is an abusive control freak, their relationship spiraling out of control with screaming matches and bruised skin. So she takes off for a weekend trip home, encountering a detour where sinkholes of the earth and sinkholes of the soul are equally deadly.
Detour is one of four suspenseful tales in the collection Heart Stopper and Other Stories, available now at Amazon.com.
Do sinkholes effect your neck of the woods? Ever swim in a water-filled one?