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Florida's 'Sinkhole Alley' strikes again

  • Sinkhole-prone stretch of Florida centered around Tampa
  • State's geological features make it prime sinkhole territory
Florida's 'Sinkhole Alley' strikes again

A second sinkhole has formed in the Tampa area, just two miles from the one which likely killed a 37-year-old man last week.

This new sinkhole is so far about 13-feet across, five-feet deep and located between two homes, the occupants of which have both been evacuated. The formation of this new hole isn't so much a surprise as probably just the beginning of what's been referred to as "sinkhole season" in an area dubbed "Sinkhole Alley."

The geographic phenomena is so common in Florida that new rules to limit soaring sinkhole insurance claims went into effect in 2011. "Sinkhole lawyers" are actually a thing there. And nowhere are sinkholes as prevalent as the west coast county cluster of Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas. The town of Spring Hill has 3,145 verified sinkholes alone, according to research firm Core Logic.

So what's going on with Florida? It's the limestone, mostly. Also the weather and the state's booming population aren't helping either.

According to Florida's Geologic Survey:

"Dissolution of carbonate rocks (limestone, dolomite) begins when they are exposed to acidic water. Most rainwater is slightly acidic and usually becomes more acidic as it moves through decaying plant debris... Limestones in Florida are porous, allowing the acidic water to percolate through their strata, dissolving some limestone and carrying it away in solution.

Over eons of time, this persistent erosional process has created extensive underground voids. Collapse of overlying sediments into the underground cavities produces sinkholes."

Florida's frequent rain and pumping out of groundwater for the region's heavy agricultural demands can also make matters worse.


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