Florida is now home to another sinkhole, the latest in a series of the occurrences to take place in the Sunshine State, leaving some people wondering about the cause of the dangerous geological features.
Pasco Mobile Home Park near Kennewick was struck by a pair of sinkholes, threatening homes, automobiles and pedestrians. The first sinkhole formed on November 10, swallowing a Hyundai, which fell 10 feet to the bottom of the hole. The second such event took place on November 11, just 25 feet from the first pit, growing to 10 feet wide. Safety officials believe a third sinkhole could soon form in the park, and six families from seven mobile homes have been evacuated from the region. They are being housed at the Fairfield Inn near their homes, with the bill covered by management of the park.
"There's no way I would have come down to Florida if I thought my house was gonna go. No. I came down for some R and R and good times," Penny Sharpe, one of the evacuees, whose home sits near the location where the third sinkhole is predicted to form, said.
Sinkholes in Florida are formed through the slow erosion of limestone that exists under much of the state. They are one variety of karst landform, a class of geological features that also includes caves, springs, and disappearing streams.
"Limestones in Florida are porous, allowing the acidic water to percolate through their strata, dissolving some limestone and carrying it away in solution. Over eons of time, this persistent erosional process has created extensive underground voids and drainage systems in much of the carbonate rocks throughout the state. Collapse of overlying sediments into the underground cavities produces sinkholes," the Florida Department of Environmental Protection wrote on its Web site.
Clay or organic material layered underground can compress as water is removed, providing another method by which sinkholes can form.
Geologists believe these particular features may have been the result of water pumping carried out for a new sewer system being constructed next door to the mobile home park. Pasco County Utilities has agreed to halt work in the area, until the cause of the sinkholes has been determined.
"Whatever has stimulated this, it could have been the pumping, they were de-watering, so they were lowering the water table, that changed the hydraulics, the pressures in the ground and that might have been the trigger," Sandy Nettles, a geologist from Palm Harbor, told the press.
Anna Maria Boi-Jones, owner of the Huyndai lost in the first sinkhole, left her mobile home without her watch, shoes or medicine to treat her diabetes.