Did you know that sinkholes are estimated to cost more than $300 worth of damages in the United States every year? This is because these holes ‘swallow’ buildings, buses, and destroy the streets and cause the residents to live in fear when there are torrential rains or a flood-like situation in a city.
These sinkholes are becoming a common occurrence in areas where there are water soluble rocks underneath the ground.
It is mainly the karst terrain that allows these sinkholes to form. Almost all states of the US have karst terrain. According to a conservative estimate, collapses taking place in this terrain cost about $300 million in losses each year. These incidents are reported to have happened both on the streets and inside private properties. That is why many residents seek sinkhole insurance in Frostproof Florida.
From the overview of the situation, it seems that the situation is only set to become worse unless appropriate measures are taken. These steps include becoming more aware of sinkholes and playing our due role to minimize and prevent them. We will look at 10 facts that you will find beneficial in strengthening your knowledge about the sinkholes.
1. Urban Sinkholes Develop Due to Faulty Water Lines
Sinkholes are not just natural but there can also be a strong human factor involved in their occurrence. Man-made sinkholes appear when either the main water line or the sewerage line breaks. The continuous spilling of water causes the structure to become weakened. As soon as some pressure is applied on top, the structure gives away and falls apart. This is particularly dangerous and can turn into a catastrophe when large buses get ‘swallowed’ by such sinkholes.
Hence, the apparently unnoticed sinkholes do not just damage the road infrastructure, they may also cost lives.
2. Sinkholes Are Caused by Specific Rocks
As discussed above, the incidents of sinkholes mostly take place in karst terrains but what is the material that creates such terrain? It is basically the carbonate or evaporite rocks that cause such terrains to form. The bedrock underground is basically made of gypsum, limestone, salt or sandstone.
When the groundwater reaches these rocks, it makes them to gradually dissolve, hence weakening the surface ground layer. The more porous or soluble the bedrock is, the higher are the chances of sinkholes forming and eventually collapsing the structure.
3. Natural Sinkholes Develop Due to Underground Changes
As opposed to man-made sinkholes, natural sinkholes form as a result of an underground process that involves erosion of the bedrock. That’s because the ground below us may constantly experience changes of all sorts.
These changes are sometimes so intense that they cause the water table to shift from its location. At other times, these cause the roof of the underground caves to collapse. These changes or, in other words, increased solubility in the bedrock causes the surface layer to sink and cause inevitable damage.
4. Certain States Are At High Risk of Sinkholes
While about 50 US states have areas that are prone to developing sinkholes, some specific states are at higher risk. These states include namely, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. This is the reason that the news of massive road sinkholes is becoming increasingly common. Contrary to common perception, sinkholes may also appear inside a property. Sometimes, these are minor and may be overcome through filling the affected site with some sand. However, when these cause the foundation of the property or a building to suddenly shift, then the entire structure may collapse at once. That’s why it is wise to acquire sinkhole insurance in Frostproof Florida.
5. Sinkholes Also Exist Underwater
While most of us are familiar of sinkholes that happen in urban areas or above the ground level, these also take place underneath and may cause larger changes in the water system. The sinkholes that appear below the ground are called blue holes.
However, contrary to urban sinkholes, blue holes are not particularly dangerous. These are also much deeper than their urban counterparts, and could have more than 300 meters of width and 100 meters of depth. The deepest sinkhole or blue hole exists in the Bahamas with more than 200-meter depth.
6. Sinkholes Can Be Prevented from Worsening
The sinkholes are preventable to a great extent, provided that they are spotted in time. In case a minor cavity appears or there are other visible signs such as cracks in the walls or the road infrastructure are identified, then the major sinkhole or the dropout could be prevented.
Potential sinkholes could be stopped by using a grout, a material used to fill and cover crevices or cavities. However, the filling process varies case to case or depends on the severity of the issue.
7. Sinkhole Remediation Needs Combined Efforts
Whether a sinkhole is a result of an industrial or a natural process, its remediation takes the combined efforts of the experts. Firstly, geotechnical engineers and expert geologists perform a surface testing to determine the extent of the damage to the site.
Based on their case study, a design team comprising civil engineers steps in, studies the site carefully, puts forth a comprehensive remediation plan, and gives specifications of the proposed structure. These experts also suggest ways to prevent sinkhole development in the affected areas in future.
8. Sinkholes Can Be Gradual As Well As Rapid
Not all sinkholes develop abruptly and cause the surface layer to fall apart. While some of these may develop over a period of few hours, others may take months to develop before suddenly destroying the surface above them.
Again, both of these sinkholes could be detected before they come to the fore. While rapid sinkholes are detectable through their visible signs, long-term ones may only be spotted with a careful survey of the geographic conditions and the changes in the water system underneath.
9. Some Sinkholes Can Be Reused
Sometimes, the sinkholes are developed into a form that cannot be rebuilt. In such cases, their close proximity to the waterbed turns them into structures similar to a swimming pool. In some areas of the world, these structures are permanently turned into sources of recreational activity.
For instance, some of these sinkholes are even used as large swimming pools or as sites for leisure and amusement. The purpose of these activities is to turn these sinkholes into something useful and make positive and creative use of the land affected.
10. World’s Largest Sinkhole Is in China
Sinkholes have always been gaining attention due to the damage they cause, which is sometimes widespread and irrecoverable. But other times, these are known more for the mystery associated to them.
Sinkholes that have incredible depth and width are mesmerizing for many and they offer much sight-seeing. That being said, the world’s largest sinkhole is in China, is called the Heavenly Pit. Also called the Xiaozhai or Tiankeng, the Heavenly Pit is 626-metre long, 662-metre deep and 537-metre wide.
Should You Seek Sinkhole Insurance?
In view of the above circumstances and reasoning, it seems understandable that every resident should seek sinkhole insurance in Frostproof Florida. But the issue that arises here is that getting the insurance is complex. This is because homeowners insurances do not include coverage for the damage caused by these sinkholes.
This could be primarily due to the fact that sinkholes are really difficult to predict. Secondly, these sinkholes are still comparatively rare, and so the citizens sometimes decide that they do not need to sign up an insurance agreement.
It is also pertinent to mention there that there are basically two types of sinkhole insurances, one is that provides coverage for the losses. However, the other, more complex sort of insurance requires that the applicant may meet strict criteria to file a claim for the damages.
These include proving in a variety of ways the incident and the damage that it may have caused. Once it is determined as to which sort of insurance the claim qualifies for, a geological team is sent to conduct a survey, the cost of which is paid by the applicant.
The question of whether or not you should have sinkhole insurance depends on where you live. If you are a resident of one of the aforementioned areas, then the wisest thing to do is to get an insurance cover as early as possible.
At the end of the day, it is the safety that matters the most and therefore, it is advisable to sign up for an insurance program. Remember, many citizens end up paying more for the damages of a catastrophe than they had thought they would save by not signing up for insurance. So, act smart!
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