Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One Sinkhole Killed, and Many others opened, but experts counsel not to panic.

Ariel Sachtjen
Bio current event

Sinkholes seem to be occurring more and more everyday.  A sinkhole is a natural depression hole in the Earth’s surface cause by sudden and severe shifts in the earth’s surface. Sinkholes can vary in size from 3.3 feet to 2,000 feet both in diameter and depth. However, sinkholes usually only occur in large landscapes shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock. The most recent sink hole occurred in Waterloo, Illinois.  On the fourteenth of March, forty three year old Mark Mihal was golfing and got swallowed into a sinkhole. The sinkhole was no bigger than a Hula Hoop, but it was more than ten feet deep. Fortunately he was able to get out with the help of his friends, but dislocated his shoulder. Sinkholes don’t only happen in Illinois. In Massachusetts a seventeen foot sinkhole was discovered early  in the morning.  The most dramatic and alarming sinkhole appeared two weeks ago in Florida.  While a man was sleeping in his bed a giant sinkhole opened up under his home’s foundation.   Before he was able to react, the man and his bed were swallowed up into the sinkhole, which collapsed around him before help could arrive.  Despite these scary and dramatic examples, one scientist was quoted as saying “ I don’t believe we’re having anymore today that we’ve had before.”

Sinkholes have a huge affect on humanity. Scientist have been trying for years to figure out a way to determine when they happen. However, sinkholes usually occur in layers of soluble bedrock. Most of this bedrock is located around the southern states. It is very scary, and unusual that a sinkhole occurred in Massachusetts. It would be very rare that a sinkhole could occur in New York due to our rock soil composition.  Sink holes generally occur in urban areas like New York due to water main breaks or sewer collapses when old pipes give way. However, if i lived in Louisiana there would be a greater chance that there could be a sinkhole. Sinkholes can also form from human activity. For instance a collapse of abandoned mines. 

I thought this article was really interesting. However, I think the author could have elaborated more on the different sinkholes. The author would only state one or two facts about the different incidents of the sinkholes. I had to do outside research for the causes and the different occurrences.  I did think there were some good points to the article. For instance, I  thought it was interesting how the author interviewed a scientist. It was interesting hearing his point of view on the sinkholes, and how he thinks that they are not typically a big deal nor are they occurring more often than in past years.  

Wines, Michael. "One Sinkhole Killed, and Many Others Opened, but Experts Counsel Not to Panic." One Sinkhole Killed, and Many Others Opened, but Experts Counsel Not to Panic. N.p., 15 Mar. 2013. Web.


  1. Matthew Bettino

    I really enjoyed the opening part of your entry. I thought it flowed very well into the facts that you would present later. You gave some background on what sinkholes were. Before this entry, I really did not know what a sinkhole was in scientific terms. However, you simply described the shape, look, and rate of occurrence very early on in your paragraph. This gave me some basic knowledge that I used throughout reading the rest of your entry. I also really liked how specific you were when describing some sinkhole incidents. You used phrases like “no bigger than a Hula Hoop” that allowed me to paint a visual image of what the event must have been like. Finally, I enjoyed how you connected the topic of sinkholes back to Bronxville, something that is obviously very relatable to all students in our class. It was good how you explained how it would be very rare for a sinkhole to occur in an area like Bronxville because the bedrock composition is not very soluble and susceptible to sinkholes. I was very interested in the vast size of sinkholes. 2,000 feet is an incredible width for a sinkhole, and an even more stunning depth. This fact made me want to look up sinkholes on the Internet. Maybe I can find some cool pictures. Also, I was interested when you stated that many sinkholes occur in Louisiana. This interested me because I will be going there over spring break. Overall, sinkholes are a very interesting topic to me because little is known about them. They are similar to earthquakes in the sense that scientists have such trouble predicting them. One thing that I think you could have done to improve your entry would be to elaborate on the first sentence of your second paragraph, “Sinkholes have a huge affect on humanity.” Do they destroy forests? Do they cause to our major cities? I would have liked to know a bit more about the relevance of sinkholes in our society. However, I thought you did a great job summarizing this article. I really enjoyed reading your entry.

  2. I enjoyed reading this summary as a whole. It was well written and you gave many facts and helped me picture what a sinkhole was, I didn't really have a clear idea before reading your post. Describing the particular incidents also helped me picture sinkholes and were presented in a brief yet pleasing way. Two things that were interesting to me was that sink holes can vary so wildly in size, from 3.3 to 2,000 feet deep like you said, and that they occur in layers of soluble bed rock. I find it interesting that sinkholes seem harmful and something the general public should be aware about, but I've never heard about them until now, I had heard the name before but it didn't mean anything to me. One think you could have improved was elaborating on how sinkholes affect humanity. You made a brief sentence about it but didn't really elaborate. You could have also talked about the dangers a massive sinkhole might cause, or compare the damages of sinkholes to earthquakes.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this current event report, because it was a great summary and also taught me a lot about what a sinkhole is. I had never known really what a sinkhole was, but after reading this, I was able to visualize what a sinkhole actually is. One aspect of this report that went really well, was the background information that was initially given, because it gave the reader insight into what a sinkhole is, before they read about specific incidents with sinkholes. Another thing that worked really well, was the overall flow of the summary. It was organized very well so that us as readers could understand and follow the report better. You also had really good criticism about the article that you wrote the report on, you clearly stated what was wrong with the article which worked well with your summary. I was impressed to learn that sinkholes can actually reach up to 2,000 feet deep, which is scary to think that someone could fall into that. I was also shocked to learn that a sinkhole can just appear, especially right underneath a house and swallow it up, which is scary to even picture. I don't really have any suggestions on how to improve this report because I think it was very well written.