What are sinkhole warning signs?

Two homes in the Village of Buttonwood are precariously perched on the edge of a sinkhole.
Two homes in the Village of Buttonwood are precariously perched on the edge of a sinkhole.

The large sinkhole that has formed in the Village of Buttonwood has many Villagers, who in many cases came from areas where sinkhole do not occur, wondering about sinkholes. Here’s a quick primer:

What causes sinkholes?

Sinkholes are depressions or a collapse of the land surface as the limestone below cracks and develops fractures. Acidic waters seeping through the soil lead to the breakdown over long periods of time.

While these types of events often occur after a high accumulation of rainfall in a brief period of time, they can also take place in extremely dry conditions, as the water table below the surface drops or dries out.

What are the warning signs?

There are several signs you can watch for that may lead to the formation of a sinkhole:

  • Fresh exposure on fence posts, foundations and trees that result when the ground sinks
  • Slumping, sagging or slanting fence posts, trees or other objects
  • Doors and windows that fail to close properly
  • Ponding: Small ponds of rainfall forming where water has not collected before
  • Wilting of small, circular areas of vegetation, because the moisture that normally supports vegetation in the area is draining into a developing sinkhole below the surface
  • Turbidity in water in nearby wells
  • Structural cracks in walls, floors and pavement
  • Cracks in the ground surface.

Is that a sinkhole forming?

If you think you have a sinkhole on your property:

  • Mark and secure the hole. Keep children and pets away.
  • If the hole is directly affecting the house, stay outside of the dewlling.
  • Call your property insurance adjuster and report it immediately.

To access the Florida Department of Environmental Protection database, follow the link below:

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/gisdatamaps/sinkhole_database.htm