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A Look Inside Texas Sinkholes

Like Florida, Texas is a popular state for sinkholes. There’s been several of them in the past decade — the biggest ate up a chunk of Daisetta (Liberty County, Texas) in 2008, and became a private pool for a 7-foot alligator!

Here’s a clip of news coverage of what happened that massive sinkhole.

So what causes sinkholes? According to the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey), sinkholes form in areas where rocks dissolve easily by the groundwater circulating around them.

When water from rainfall moves down through the soil, these types of rock begin to dissolve and spaces and caverns develop underground. Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a period of time 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.

The most soluble rocks are limestone, gypsum, and salt beds and domes (the common hazard in Daisetta and eastern Texas). USGS notes 20% of the U.S. is susceptible to a sinkhole event and the most damage tends to occur in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.

Learn more about sinkholes here.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.