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No April Fool: It’s Sinkhole Thursday

Hole in the BackyardOn a spot in my backyard over which grownups and adults have trodden, sledded, rolled, jumped and run, a foot unexpectedly went through the ground, making a foot-sized hole. We were headed to check out some radish sprouts but never made it there. Just by casually hitting the ground with a shovel, we uncovered a hole that’s a few feet wide and at least four feet deep. The soil over this hole was only a couple of inches thick.

Is this a new hole, eroded from underneath by recent heavy rains? If so, where did the soil erode to? How far down does the hole go? Will it further expaaaaaaaaaa…

13 thoughts on “No April Fool: It’s Sinkhole Thursday”

  1. Jacob says:

    Awesome that no one was hurt. That could have gone badly.

  2. ramone says:

    this is not good, unless you have some dead bodies that need burying. any bodies in your closet?
    either fill the hole with concrete (and bodies,if available) or let it expand and have yourself a swimming hole.:)

    1. Jim says:

      There are Limekiln and Limerock roads within a mile of where I live. I suspect that limestone has been dissolving away underground for some time. I think the big rains of the past week must have washed away the last stone in between the soil and… what lies beneath. All that dirt must have gone somewhere, which makes me think that the hole goes down, down some more. Maybe down all the way to the aquifer our well water comes from? Now that would be some swimming hole! I’m going to head out and give the hole some more prods with the trunk of a dead sumac too see how solid it is.

      Why fill the hole with concrete, ramone, rather than just with more soil? I’d love to hear some advice on this.

      1. ramone says:

        it’s just that concrete won’t wash out as easily. you may end up with a big hole surounding the concrete patch, which would not be good either. i like the swimming hole.

    2. ChuckleNuts says:

      In-ground pools usually require fencing around them anyway.

  3. Tomas says:

    I had seen this issue before when I lived in New Mexico. The natural formations of limestone had cracked in the area due to the building of the intersate back in the 50s. So the area was having sinkholes show up in the 90s when water got into the upper tables and disolved the limestone. The soloution was to find the source of the cracks and locate the sepage. Then, they built wells and pumped the water out of the area into the cities water supply. That fixed the problem. Oh, and yes they filled the holes with granite gravel and clay based soil.

  4. Louise says:

    Notify your town ASAP. Get them to send a civil engineer out there pronto. You have no idea how far down or abroad that hole could go. The entire neighborhood may be at risk. While most sinkholes are caused by the erosion of bedrock, some are man-made. Was your house built post-war? Many developers used to clear land and then use the trees and brush to creat landfill- dumping the trunks and limbs into ditches and filling them over with soil. As the trees degrade, the soil collapses and sinkholes form.

    You should also go to your nearest hardware store and buy some stakes and safety fence /caution tape. If anybody’s child or bet comes over and falls in, you are in for some big liability.

    Speaking of liability, is your homeowners’ insurance up to date? You should check out the policy now. If your home was built over and old lime mine, you may be out of luck unless you have sinkhole insurance. If you are in Florida, such insurance was probably mentioned when you bought your house. Of course, if you are in Florida and a sinkhole forms, you are supposed to call 911. Be prepared to be told to leave your house.

  5. Tom says:

    Hey, that looked a LOT like the one in my backyard until i filled it in with big rocks and two and a half wheel barrows full of topsoil/mushroom soil mix.

  6. ChuckleNuts says:

    That is a real live example of the effects of global climate change on a local impact level.

  7. ChuckleNuts says:

    I didn’t read all of these comments closely: “…if anybody’s child or bet comes over and falls in, you are in for some big liability.

    Speaking of liability, is your homeowners’ insurance up to date? ..”

    Liability is really not what should be an issue. The issue would be the loss of potentially a child’s innocent life, or perhaps a family pet even. Counting on insurance is like expecting health insurance to keep you healthy.

    I would suggest a practical approach immediately. Caution tape is nice, but I would suggest a few very sturdy 2×4’s and some wood screws. Then screw the 2×4’s to the underside of some very sturdy (like 3/4″) plywood and have it cover the entire hole and slightly beyond. Then weigh it down with some concrete blocks to keep it from blowing away if it gets windy. Then surround it by tape or fencing, but remember that may even attract kids to it, if it’s brightly colored. The 2x4s will keep the plywood from buckling down.

    Don’t wait for the town or someone else to do it. Do it immediately before someone gets hurt, or worse.

    1. Louise says:

      I agree, CN. But you’d be surprised how many homeowners won’t do anything about a dangerous hazard on their property until they realize that they might get sued or lose their homeowners’ insurance. For some reason, our country has taught people that only threats to one’s own health, safety or comfort are the threats that truly demand attention.

  8. Tina says:

    The exact same thing happened to me a couple of days ago. I haven’t started digging or poking around so the hole is still a little wider than my foot. However, I stuck a garden rake handle into the hole and it never touched bottom. Did you ever figure out what caused your hole? I live in Georgia…. are you in the Southeast?

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Nope, Maine! Be careful.

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