Sinkholes wreak havoc | I-24 Sinkhole and Canada sinkhole

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 By

Sinkhole

Sinkholes can be common occurrences in wetland states. Image from Flickr.

If your evening commute includes I-24 in Tennessee, the I-24 sinkhole is sure to throw a wrench into your plans. A deep sinkhole opened up on I-24 between Chattanooga and Nashville, and shut down a 13-mile stretch of the heavily traveled road. In Canada, a wide sinkhole that opened last week killed a family who was in their basement. So what is the deal with all of these sinkholes?

I-24 Sinkhole snarls Tennessee traffic

The Tennessee Department of Transportation reported today that the I-24 sinkhole opened up Tuesday morning. A tractor-trailer barely missed the sinkhole after it opened up, and nobody was injured or had to take out new car loans as a result of the sinkhole. At 40 feet long and 25 feet deep, the sinkhole will take $266,960 to fix, and authority hopes repairs will be completed by May 22. A private contractor has been given the contract. The I-24 sinkhole is between mile marker 127 and exit 127. Traffic has been detoured around the sinkhole on Eastbound lanes, though Westbound lanes have not been closed.

Canadian sinkhole kills family of four

On the northern side of the continent, a sinkhole that recently opened up in Canada killed a family of four. Just outside Montreal, a sinkhole appeared under several homes, and one family who was in their basement at the time was encased in the sloshing mud. Neighboring houses were evacuated, and the area is being treated as a disaster rehabilitation area by the Canadian government.

What is a sinkhole, anyway?

Sudden sinkholes such as the ones in Tennessee and Canada have several causes. Usually, water either running below bedrock or seeping in from above works away at the underlying support of an area. The water slowly dissolves the rock, and eventually the weight above the area simply becomes too much. At this point, a sudden sinkhole appears. Sub-surface waterways, sewer piping and abandoned mines are some of the most common causes of sinkholes. Sinkholes can be difficult to predict, though Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri and Pennsylvania tend to have the most sinkholes among U.S. states.

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