Why Sinkholes Open Up and Swallow Britain (VIDEOS)
By Reissa Su | February 21, 2014 6:15 PM EST
Due to the recent heavy rainfall in the UK, sinkholes have opened up and swallowed buildings and caused roads to collapse. A portion of the M2 road in Kent was closed after sinkhole measuring 15 feet was found in the central reservation.
A 40-foot sinkhole that opened up under the National Corvette Museum and swallowed eight Corvettes, including the historic 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, in Bowling Green, Kentucky February 12, 2014 is seen in this handout provided by the museum.
On Feb 2, a deeper sinkhole measuring 30-feet deep had opened up on a family's driveway and swallowed the car of a teenager in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
British Geological Survey's Dr Vanessa Banks explained that the sinkholes usually appear when the layers of soil, gravel and clay have become saturated with water. The holes sink when they can no longer hold their own weight.
The sinkhole that opened up in High Wycomb may have opened up because the ground is made of chalk, containing natural caves. The voids may have formed thousands of years ago as groundwater passed through and eventually dissolved the chalk. The loosening of the ground may have also been caused by mining and other human activities.
Dr Banks said a surefire way to tell if a sinkhole is under someone's home is if there is cracking on the property. A hole may open up if there is a failure in the property's drainage system. Rainfall seeping into the ground can also trigger the collapse.
Sinkholes may develop slowly over time, or they may appear suddenly. The recent sinkholes that have opened up in the UK were created over time, but both types of sinkholes have the same mechanism.
In January, waves as high as 27 feet or 8,2 metres have been recorded at Land's End. Gigantic waves battered the west coast and residents were advised to prepare for the storm and the floods that might follow. Weather forecasts had previously predicted a storm to pass west of Scotland. This prompted the MET Office to issue "severe flood warnings" for rain and 70 mph winds along the coast.
Since the rains began, 1,700 properties were reported to be flooded in England, including Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Kent, Sussex and Surrey as the most affected. The floods have reached 140 properties in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland during the first month of 2014.
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