The fact that Florida has many sinkholes comes as no surprise to most of us. Sinkhole areas in Florida are well-known in the United States. Sinkholes in Florida make national headlines year after year as the geologic phenomenon seems to swallow more of the Sunshine State (Brown, 2019).
Florida Sinkhole Incidents Location map (Google Map)
Why is it that Florida has so many sinkholes? Is there some way to avoid dealing with a sinkhole?
Sinkholes can grow anywhere in Florida, but the karst limestone environment in west-central Florida causes the most activity. Long-term weather patterns, heavy acidic rains, and drought-like conditions are all factors that increase the risk of sinkhole activity (Grape, n.d.).
The regional map on the right shows’ sinkhole locations identified by the Florida Geological Survey since 1954. Although it does not represent all sinkhole occurrences in Florida, it does lead to an understanding of the problem’s scale (Bodenner, 2018).
In the landscape of Florida, sinkholes are a common sight. They are just one type of karst landform found in Florida, including caves, disappearing streams, springs, and underground drainage systems (Bodenner, 2018).
The distinctive landscape developed by erosional processes related to the chemical weathering and degradation of limestone, the carbonate rock in Florida, is known as karst. As acidic water is used to remove carbonate crystals, the process begins. Most rainwater is slightly acidic, and as it passes through rotting plant debris, it becomes more acidic.
What is a Sinkhole, and Where Can You Find These in Florida?
Florida Sinkhole or Sinkhole in Florida
At its most basic level, a sinkhole is a depression or hole that forms when the earth’s surface layer collapses or degrades.
Sinkholes that are large enough can ruin entire houses and even neighborhoods. Even though not as severe, Sinkhole depressions can trigger a slew of homeowners’ issues, including cracks, plumbing issues, foundation issues, slab leaks, and more (Grape, n.d.).
Sinkhole formation has become more rapid in recent years. Droughts, excessive flooding, land development, water pumping, and the construction of retention dams are all examples of common factors. Sinkholes can vary in size from tiny to huge in Florida. Some are wide enough to swallow entire neighborhoods, highways, swimming pools, and structures.
Sinkholes damage not only infrastructure but also a risk to the environment. All forms of pollutants, such as fertilizers and pesticides, directly access carbonate rocks found in sinkhole creation. Oil and fuel flow directly into the sinkhole also. Sinkholes are a standard part of the environment; despite the problems they cause.
Development Causes More Sinkhole Areas in Florida.
It’s no secret that the Sunshine State is expanding at a rapid rate. The population is growing due to low taxes, a pleasant atmosphere, and a robust job market. Florida is now one of the country’s fastest-growing nations.
The demand for new homes is increasing, and developers are rushing to meet it. All of this means that sinkholes can affect a more significant number of people.
With more homes and businesses covering the province, there is a greater risk that these homes and businesses will be affected by a sinkhole. So, if you live in a region where a lot of new development, such as Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area, you’re probably in one of Florida’s most likely sinkhole zones (Brown, 2019).
Some of the common Signs of Sinkholes in Florida
It is essential to be aware of the common signs of sinkholes in Florida as a homeowner or business owner. Before they become a significant threat, most sinkholes give off early warning signs. Here are the following common signs of sinkhole activity:
- Cracks in joint interior areas
- Exterior paneling or block cracks
- Squeaky windows and doors
- Yard or street downturns
- Separations, cracks, and gaps in concrete
- Wilting plants
- Neighbors with sinkholes
- Actual cavity-forming
- Foundation cracks
- Settling foundation
- Sloping floors
- Ceiling cracks
- Loss of pool water
If you live in an area where droughts are common, use water sparingly. Underground aquifers also avoid sinkholes because the water fills in gaps and holes that would otherwise cause settling. If there isn’t any water, the dirt and rocks have more space to move, resulting in sinkholes (Grape, n.d.).