A Sinkhole Can Swallow Your Whole House Instantly — Here's How

The ground can simply open up beneath your feet and swallow entire houses and cars. But how do sinkholes happen?

Every now and then, the news of a sinkhole opening up comes into the limelight. While in some cases, cars, buildings and people are instantly swallowed up, other times the sinkhole is caught in time and the area is sealed off to prevent damage.

So what really causes them?

To start off, there are two types of sinkholes: A cover-subsidence sinkhole, one that occurs over time, and a cover-collapse sinkhole, one that occurs suddenly. The latter one is usually what causes damage and takes people by surprise, because it often gives no warning signs. 

A sinkhole occurs due to erosion and the drainage of water. Initially, small cracks may appear on a road or surface and voids underneath the surface are hollowed out by water erosion. As the ground weakens over time, the earth eventually caves in and results in the creation of a sinkhole.

While most sinkholes are 10-12 feet in diameter, they can expand to hundreds of feet, swallowing everything in its path.

The deepest sinkhole in the world is the Xiaozhai tiankeng in China  which is 662 meters deep and 626 meters wide. Sima Humboldt in Bolivia, which is 314 meters, is another among the most notable sinkholes known to man.

Check out the video above to learn more about sinkholes.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters

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