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.