What are sinkholes?

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Episode Number: 107

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Location Taken: US

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Danielle Eganhouse. Today's question is an interesting one.

What are sinkholes?

Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by ground water circulating through them. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground. Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a while until the underground spaces just get too big. If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur. These collapses can be small, or they can be huge and can occur where a house or road is on top.

The most damage from sinkholes tends to occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

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CoreFacts is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

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