The Disappearing Ground!


Image Credit: Flickr User brotherlywalks, via CC

“Ha!”, grinned the wicked wizard. The princess was trapped and could not run any where – for one side there was a deep ridge and the other side the minions of the wizard.

The princess hoped that she could fly, but it was only a wish. She looked up and  suddenly saw her best friend flying towards her on a magic carpet to save her. Happiness gleamed in her eyes.

Now as her friend handed the princess her magic wand, the princess regained her courage.

Before the wizard could attack her with a magic ball she pointed her magic wand and said, “Abra ca dabra, you evil wizard! May you disappear in the ground forever.”

To everyone’s shock, the ground shook open swallowing  the wizard and all his evil men.

The princess returned to her palace and lived happily ever after.

This was long time ago. More years than you can count. Maybe this tale is true or may be it is a legend, but one thing we are sure about is the “disappearing ground”. It existed then and still exists. However, now we have a scientific term for that – sinkholes or snake holes as they are called.

What are these sinkholes or the snake holes?

Sometimes, if the the rocks under the Earth surface are made up of limestone or carbonate rocks (carbonate is the same stuff that makes up the chalk you use on your school blackboard), the water that runs under the ground rises up through the pores of the rock and over time completely erodes its layers. That makes it a sinkhole, through which the whole ground can sink inside.

Sinkholes can be small or really huge in size. Sinkholes may be formed gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide.

The Great Blue hole

Image Credit: Flickr User jetske, via CC

Natural sinkholes sometimes are really beautiful.

Sinkholes can also be man-made. A lot of underground activities like drilling, construction, mining or even heavy traffic can cause it. Sometimes a broken water-pipe can cause a sudden increase in the water running underground – forming a sinkhole.

The saddest part is that the sinkholes can come up without any warning and can be very dangerous. Here are some world-famous sink holes.

Guatemala sinkhole in 2010

Image Credit: Flickr User horslips5, via CC

  •  A man made sinkhole was formed in Guatemala City in June 2010. We call it man-made since  the underground cavity was formed due to bursting of a sewage-pipe – this cavity stood 60 feet wide and 300 feet deep.
  • A natural sinkhole also called the Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize that’s more than 1,000 feet wide and 400 feet deep.
  • Picher, Okhlahoma is a city of sinkholes because of constant mining that is done around the city – to mine out lead and zinc. It is a deserted town now. Guess why?
  • A bottomless pit -The El Zacatón sinkhole is the deepest water-filled sinkhole in the world. It was long considered to be bottomless till some time back. Now its depth is estimated to be almost 1,112 ft.
Did you know that Florida sits atop limestone rocks and there is a region that is called the “sinkhole alley”. Recently a man disappeared while sleeping in his bedroom as the sinkhole swallowed his bed.

Reality is stranger than fiction, isn’t it?


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