GIANT SINKHOLE (196.8 FEET DEEP AND 98.4 FEET IN DIAMETER) IN GUATEMALA CITY SWALLOWS A 3-STORY BUILDING AFTER HEAVY RAINS FROM TROPICAL STORM AGATHA…

Posted on June 1, 2010. Filed under: News And Politics... |

 
After torrential rains from Tropical Storm Agatha swept across Central America, up to now, 113 people were reported killed (i.e., 92 in Guatemala, 9 in El Salvador and 12 in Honduras) and approximately 50 more people are missing; 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes.  Rescue workers continue to sift through the debris.  Local reports in Guatemala said one man was killed when the building was swallowed.  In 2007, three people died when a similar sinkhole appeared in the same area, which begs the question, why is this happening again in the same area?  Could it be because of sub-standard drainage systems or something to that effect since a ruptured sewer line was thought to have caused the sinkhole that appeared in Guatemala City in 2007?
 
May God rest the souls of those people who lost their lives so unexpectedly.  I hope and pray that the rescue workers find all those who are missing.  It’s just one devastation after another in this world.  I included some pictures of the sinkhole below.  It looks like a massive black hole to nothingness…
 
QueenBee
 
 
 
 
 
A sinkhole that swallowed a three-story building in Guatemala City has been blamed on a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha and poor drainage systems. Photograph: Luis Echeverria
 

Guatemala City Sinkhole: How Did It Happen?
After Tropical Storm Agatha, Massive Sinkhole Swallows Building in Guatemala City
By KI MAE HEUSSNER
June 1, 2010—

It almost looks too massive and menacing to be real.

After Tropical Storm Agatha hit Central America over the weekend, a gaping sinkhole in Guatemala City swallowed a three-story building. According to some reports, the hole is about 200 feet deep.

Though scientists say sinkholes are common in certain parts of the world, some said that this one took even them by surprise.

"A lot of us who study sinkholes look at this and go, ‘wow,’ it does seem a little bit bizarre," said Randall C. Orndorff, a program coordinator with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Orndorff said that sinkholes are common in places with rocks, such as limestone and gypsum, that can be naturally dissolved by water.

In those so-called "karst" areas, caves and voids form underground as the rocks dissolve, he said. After heavy rains or extreme drought, sinkholes can suddenly form naturally as the underground spaces open up and can no longer support the land at the surface. Human activity, such as construction, can also lead to the same consequence.

Florida, Parts of Texas, Great Lakes Area Prone to Sinkholes

In the U.S., he said, Florida, parts of Texas and the area around the Great Lakes are most vulnerable to sinkholes.

But geologists familiar with Guatemala say the issue there isn’t limestone.

"The area in the city is underlayed by volcanic deposits, and these volcanic deposits make very steep-bounded canyons," said William Rose, professor in the geological engineering & sciences department at the Michigan Technological University.

In February 2007, a 330-foot sinkhole opened up in Guatemala City, also after heavy rains.

"It was found that it was due to sewer arrangements of the city, which had undermined the area. I suspect it’s the same thing," he said.

Orndorff also said that though more investigation is needed, it seems that old infrastructure is to blame for the recent sinkhole.

"If you think of a sewer or water line, it’s a manmade cave. At some point, if they fail, all of the soil above it and to the surface goes with it," he said.

Human Activity Can Cause Sinkholes

Orndorff said that while karst areas are most prone to natural sinkholes, infrastructure problems could lead to sinkholes anywhere.

"The reason I think we’re seeing more and more & is because our population has grown so much," he said. "We’re building in karst areas, which are great for farming and agriculture. Now as cities develop, we’re expanding into those areas."

In May 2008, he said a sinkhole in Daisetta, Texas, opened up after an underground salt dome collapsed. It ended up stretching three football field lengths in diameter and plunging 150 feet into the ground.

But he said that the most catastrophic sinkholes occur in places with mature karst development, such as Papua New Guinea, Borneo and Indonesia.

Sinkholes in those areas have been known to be a mile or two across and hundreds of feet deep.

Sometimes he said fractures in the ground or slight depressions can indicate that a sinkhole might be about to occur, but often the ground can collapse suddenly without warning.

 
 
 

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