Sinkhole in IHOP Parking Lot

On Sunday afternoon a group of friends and I headed back to Baton Rouge from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a heartbreaking loss to the tide this weekend. As my friend drove back down to the best college in the SEC (LSU), I sat in the passenger seat dosing off.  About 2 hours into the car ride I was awoken by my friend Sarah shouting, “wake up, wake up!” I looked out the passenger seat window and saw a sink hole next to an International House of Pancakes (IHOP).

The sinkhole happened on Saturday evening in Meridian Mississippi. It was 35- feet wide, 375 feet long and 30 feet deep. Luckily, there were no injuries to humans but 12 cars were swallowed in the sinkhole.

After my friends and I drove past the sinkhole we started to question what causes sinkholes. According to Dr. Greg Easson, from the University of Mississippi’s Geology and Geological Engineering Department, sinkholes typically occur when limestone erodes due to underground water movement. The United States Geological Service (USGS) defines a sinkhole as an area of land that has no surface drainage. So when it rains, all of the water stays inside of the sinkhole and drains into the subsurface. Dr. Easson says that is not what caused this sinkhole in Mississippi. He said that the collapsing of an underwater drain due to new construction was the cause for this sinkhole.

The USGS has 4 different classifications for sinkholes. Sinkholes can be identified as a dissolution sinkhole, cover-subsidence sinkhole, cover-collapse sinkhole, or human-induced sinkhole.According to Dr. Easson the one in Meridian, MS would be classified as human-induced.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.23.28 AM
Cover-subsidence sinkholes Photo Credit: USGS
Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.23.16 AM
Photo Credit: USGS
Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.23.39 AM
Cover-collapse sinkholes Photo Credit: USGS
Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.24.04 AM
Photo Credit: USGS

I have never seen anything like this, so it was a pretty shocking wakeup call – literally! Human-induced sinkholes shouldn’t be something that we have to worry about as residents, homeowners and business owners. Better construction guidelines need to be looked into to ensure that human-induced sinkholes are not a problem that any one has to deal with in the future.

Citations:

IHOP ‘sinkhole’ swallows at least a dozen cars – CNN.com. (2015, November 9). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/08/us/mississippi-sinkhole/

Sinkholes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2015, from http://water.usgs.gov/edu/sinkholes.html

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