Sinkholes are incredible destructive unpredictable natural disasters. Florida has many sinkhole occurrences, caused by its limestone soil weakening with dried up water pockets in it. Much like every other natural disaster, sinkholes do take lives. Sinkholes tend to most occur in the mid-Florida to Tampa area. Though sinkholes are not very talked about or are normal occurrences, they do happen and many people do not know what they are. A sinkhole is a natural hole that forms in the Earth’s surface as a result of the chemical weathering of carbonate rocks like limestone, as well as salt beds or rocks that can be severely weathered as water runs through them. Sinkholes develop when sub-surface rock develops a hole or void due to erosion, gradually soil from above seeps to fill the void in the rock, creating an open area or void in the sub-surface soil (“Staff”).
Chemical weathering and loose limestone soil are ingredients to a sinkhole, naturally. Although sinkholes are natural humans can and do have an influence when sinkholes do occur. “Excessive groundwater withdrawal for irrigation purposes, for example, can sometimes trigger a sinkhole because it depressurizes the aquifer. Another mechanism that … occurred here in New Mexico a couple of years ago was brine well pumping. There was a company here that was injecting freshwater into the salt beds in the subsurface and dissolving out the salt to form brine…” (Rossiter). As we now know what sinkholes are and how they happen, the real question is, why in Florida? Sinkholes are a part of the slow, natural process of erosion in Florida’s limestone terrain that occur over thousands of years (“How”). Sinkholes occur in Florida because much of the state’s land sits on soft limestone that is susceptible to dissolving, creating sinkholes. The whole state of Florida sits on top of thousands of feet of carbonated limestone, but the region where most sinkholes happen is the west-central part of Florida. Sinkholes—like springs, caves, underground drainage systems and the like—are karst landforms. Karst is the general term for landforms produced by the erosional processes of chemical weathering and dissolution of carbonate rocks (“How”). Geologically sinkholes form like caves, springs, and underground drainage systems, sinkholes can potentially be deadly.
The latest life a sinkhole took is 37-year-old Jeffrey Bush from Seffner, Florida. Bush died Feb. 28 when the Earth opened up under his bedroom floor. His brother, Jeremy Bush, heard his screams and tried to save him, but he was rescued by a sheriff deputy (“Public”). The sinkhole that swallowed Jeffrey was about 60 feet deep. The hole was not visible until an excavator with an 80-foot arm demolished the home. A couple miles away in a backyard in Seffner, another sinkhole appeared. This sinkhole did not cause any structural damage or injuries, but it is raising fears among the residents in the area. People are scared that a sinkhole can just appear in a yard or home putting their family in danger. Jeffrey’s family put mementos in a bucket to be placed in the hole before officials filled and covered the hole. “That’s the hole I was trying to get my brother out of,” Bush said, according to Bay News 9. “I tried the hardest I could. I wanted to let him know I love him. ‘I tried my hardest to get you out bro. I think I’m the only one that actually tried to get you out.’” (“Public”).
Bush’s body was never recovered from the hole. His funeral was held at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida. Death is not the only danger sinkholes have. Danger doesn’t only happen when the sinkhole occurs, but also after it’s covered. There are ways to avoid the danger if you have a Florida sinkhole. “The walls of a sink hole are “funnel-like” and often have a slick surface from mud or muck. Although it is natural to be curious about a sink hole, especially if your house is in danger of collapsing or falling into it, should be completely avoided. It is never safe to get near to a sinkhole that clearly has a steep vertical drop off. The sides of the sink hole may extend to a depth of over 120 feet and it may not take a lot of weight to collapse the edge around it (overhang) if stepped on.” (“Pearce March”) . People should always take a precaution after a sinkhole. Family members and pets all have potential of being hurt after a sinkhole occurrence. Sinkholes are a very big threat to Florida, due to the wrath of this natural disaster. They are caused by the limestone soil weakening because of chemical reactions within the surface. There is no place in Florida where there is no danger of sinkholes because the whole state sits on thousands-of-feet of limestone. Though it is rare, sinkholes can be deadly. Always take extra precautions when you encounter a sinkhole.
Courtney from Study Moose
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