Taxonomy term

sujata gupta

Sinkholes: Florida grapples with the wonders of the not-so-deep

This story was printed in August 2010. In response to the tragic sinkhole event in Tampa, Fla., on March 1, we are reposting this story.

Sinkholes are a natural part of Florida’s landscape, forming when rainwater levels fluctuate. They've occurred naturally for millions of years and they haven’t been a big problem for humans until recently: Florida’s population has increased from fewer than 8 million in the 1970s to just shy of 20 million today — and farmers, snowbirds and Mother Nature have begun to engage in an increasingly acrimonious water war. The addition of humans to the landscape has made the situation increasingly volatile. Now, sinkholes open up seemingly — or literally — overnight. When a sinkhole opened up in a cow pasture, few people cared, but now if one opens up under somebody’s house or under Interstate 4, we pay attention.

01 Mar 2013

Florida swamps - ancient sinkholes

In Florida, the limestone bedrock is protected by a surface layer of sand and clay. Thus, when a sinkhole forms naturally, over centuries, sand and clay fill the void, creating a muddy depression. These depressions tend to evolve into swamps.

01 Mar 2012