10 epic sinkholes

Cars, trees, buildings and entire towns aren't safe

Topics: sinkholes, Louisiana, Natural Disasters, ,

The New York Times has a long feature on the Bayou Corne sinkhole — the one that swallowed an entire grove of trees — that for the past year has been terrorizing a Louisiana town.

At 25 acres and growing, the enormous maw may be unprecedented. One resident, who moved out of her home the day the sinkhole appeared, asked: “How can you find experts on this when it has never happened anywhere else in the world?”

This particular sinkhole is likely the result of a process called injection mining, in which deeps wells are sunk into the three-mile-long salt deposit that lies beneath the town. Other places, like Florida, are made susceptible to sinkholes by the natural features of their terrain. Water leaks, broken sewers and groundwater pumping for aquifer systems have all also been, at various times, responsible for the earth opening up beneath our feet.

And while Bayou Corne is a phenomenon in a class all its own, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 20 percent of the U.S. is susceptible to sinkhole activity. Below, a collection of other noteworthy pits:



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    AP/Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld

    Epic Sinkholes

    This photo provided by the Toledo, Ohio Fire and Rescue Department shows a car at the bottom of a sink hole caused by a broken water line in Toledo, Ohio Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Police say the driver, 60-year-old Pamela Knox of Toledo, was shaken up and didn't appear hurt but was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

    AP/LM Otero

    Epic Sinkholes

    The grounds crew works to repair a sinkhole next to the pitcher's mound made by a busted pipe under the infield before the baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. On-field batting practice was canceled for both teams while workers tried to fix the problem before the night's scheduled game.

    Seattle Municipal Archives

    Epic Sinkholes

    The Great Ravenna Sinkhole collapsed on the night of November 11, 1957 in Seattle. Despite being 60 feet deep, 120 feet wide and 200 feet long, no one was injured and no homes were damaged. It took two years to repair.

    AP/Chris O'Meara

    Epic Sinkholes

    Demolition experts watch as the home of Jeff Bush, 37, is destroyed Sunday, March 3, 2013, after a sinkhole opened up underneath it late Thursday evening swallowing Bush, 37, in Seffner, Fla. The 20-foot-wide opening of the sinkhole was almost covered by the house, and rescuers said there were no signs of life since the hole opened Thursday night.

    weshtv

    Epic Sinkholes

    A three-story building collapsed and another “slowly sank” as a 60-foot-wide sinkhole opened under a central Florida resort on August 12, 2013, narrowly missing the Happiest Place on Earth. The 35 people estimated to be in the building all evacuated safely.

    AP

    Epic Sinkholes

    A giant sinkhole covers a street intersection in downtown Guatemala City on June 1, 2010.

    KTLA

    Epic Sinkholes

    A sinkhole opened on April 18, 2013, swallowing three cars and injuring one person in the process.

    Epic Sinkholes

    A sinkhole in Washington, D.C. was initially reported to have swallowed a car on July 18, 2013. The car's owner, it turned out, got incredibly lucky.

    Wikimedia Commons

    Epic Sinkholes

    The Great Blue Hole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be found underwater off the coast of Belize. It's almost 1,000 feet across and over 400 feet deep.

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Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

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    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

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    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

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    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
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    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

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    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

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    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

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    Ramones, 1977
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    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
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    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
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    Dictators, Bowery 1976
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    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
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    Bowery view, 1977
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    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
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    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
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    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
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    Legs McNeil, 1977
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    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

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    Bowery 4am, 1977
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