10 epic sinkholes

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

By Lindsay Abrams
September 27, 2013 1:02AM (UTC)
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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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Louisiana Natural Disasters Sinkholes