Predicting Sinkhole Collapse

by Byron E. Ruth, (M.ASCE), Prof.; Civ. Engrg. Dept., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611,
Thomas F. Beggs, (A.M.ASCE), Engr.; Soil and Material Engineers, Inc., 606 S. Military Trail, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442,
Janet D. Degner, Asst. Engr.; Remote Sensing Applications Lab, Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1985, Vol. 55, Issue 11, Pg. 58-60

Document Type: Feature article


Sinkholes erupt when a cavern or opening in the limestone rock below opens up to the surface. Florida's sinkholes have received most U.S. attention recently, but sinkhole geology is found also in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Virginia, Michigan and Kentucky. Elsewhere, the Mediterranean countries, South Africa and the Peoples Republic of China also have major sinkhole problems. This article focuses on Florida's sinkhole-prone geology, and conditions promoting their opening up to the surface. It describes how mapping of lineaments, surface manifestations of bedrock fracture, can help predict where sinkholes may open up. Use of the technique is suggested before siting a major facility. One source of more information on sinkholes is given—the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute, at the Civil Engineering Dept., University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Subject Headings: Sinkholes | Geology | Developing countries | Limestone | Rocks | Mapping | Bedrock | Cracking | United States | Pennsylvania | Tennessee | Georgia | Alabama | Missouri | Virginia | Michigan

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