On August 27th, the Committee for Disaster Risk Management responsible for Chile’s Atacama region determined that a sinkhole spanning 36.5 meters in diameter that appeared in late July is at risk of further collapse.
Due to these rising concerns, Chilean authorities have set up an extensive security perimeter around the sinkhole near the Alcaparrosa mine, north of Santiago. Chile is the latest country to experience a sinkhole problem in 2022, with the United States and Canada following suit.
In 2022, cities in both the US and Canada witnessed sinkholes appear in popularized residential areas. On July 18th, a 58 feet long and 20 feet deep sinkhole appeared in The Bronx and cut water service to around 70 homes in the New York City borough. On August 28th, a giant sinkhole opened in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and residents in the area also reported water issues.
Big sinkhole opened up corner of 2nd ave west and 12th street. Some residents in the area experienced water issues last night. @princealbertnow @CKBI @Power99fm @BeachRadioPA pic.twitter.com/bUOP2kPZ1G— nigel maxwell (@nigelmaxwell) August 28, 2022
What Are Sinkholes?
Research suggests around 500 new sinkholes open annually, and this problem has been on the rise since the 1990s. For perspective, in countries like Israel, there were 220 sinkholes in 1996 and 1,808 in 2006.
Sinkholes are a type of natural disaster triggered by heavy rainstorms or floods. They can also appear due to leakage from stormwater pipes or sewers. When water washes away soil and groundwater levels decrease, rock spaces can collapse due to a loss of support.
Preparing For Sinkholes
Preparation is key when dealing with any type of natural disaster, which is why many people build and keep emergency survival kits in their homes and cars. Often, these kits include non-perishable foods and cases of water. However, according to ExpressVPN’s article on being prepared when a crisis hits, people also put tech essentials in their emergency bags, such as medical flash drives, portable operating systems, universal adapters, and satellite phones. Keeping tools like screwdriver kits and pocket knives is also useful during natural disasters.
When it comes to preventing the problem of sinkholes from getting worse in 2023, there are preparations that can be put in place. According to St. Johns River WMD’s article on preventing sinkholes, enforcing water conservation restrictions can help this problem. Replacing old utility pipes also helps prevent sinkholes.
The Most Famous Sinkholes In The World
Sinkholes can be deadly, but in some cases, they are harmless and have resulted in beautiful and picturesque attractions. One of the most famous examples is Jackie’s Blue Hole in Vanuatu. Though the tourist attraction is now closed, you can still google pictures of the blue water that makes up the 46 feet-deep sinkhole surrounded by a lush jungle in the South Pacific.
Rocks collapsing caused the Bimmah Sinkhole in Oman, which is also famous for its crystal blue water. However, perhaps the most famous sinkhole in the world is the Darvaza Crater in northern Turkmenistan. As per National Geographic’s article, the “Door to Hell” sinkhole was created after a Soviet drilling rig gave way. It is 223 feet wide and 99 feet deep.
The recent sinkholes that have opened in Chile, the United States, and Canada is a cause for concern but fortunately, several preparations can be put in place to prevent this problem from worsening, and this is the case with any type of natural disaster.